Should I leave?

Come on. Admit it. You’ve looked over someone’s shoulder or thrown a furtive glance at their computer screen. Well, today I invite you to read an email Nancy wrote to a friend who was considering leaving her church.

Nancy has chosen to share this letter because whether or not you’re currently disheartened with your church leadership, at some point in your life you’ll be tempted to criticize their decisions. When that time comes, this should help:

Dear Friend,

I was saddened to hear about the situation in your church. As I read your message the passage that came immediately to mind was Psalm 118:8-9. Your experience just confirms that the Lord is the only secure object for our trust. People will and do fail us; even the finest Christians and Christian leaders, ourselves included, have feet of clay. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world, and we have to respond to imperfect situations with humility, grace, compassion, and wisdom. Unfortunately, if you live long enough there’s no way to avoid the kinds of situations that you’re struggling with. The challenge is to learn how to respond to those situations without sinning ourselves.

Your situation is of particular interest to me at the moment because I am developing a new series for Revive Our Hearts on our biblical responsibilities toward those in positions of spiritual leadership, so I have been doing a lot of thinking about these kinds of issues. The Lord will have to direct you as to whether you stay at your church. As you think and pray it through, remember that you will never find a church or a church leadership without flaws.

Regardless of whether you stay or leave, I would encourage you to pray for your pastors and the whole team there at your church. I know enough about Pastor ___ to know that he takes the Lord seriously and wants to be the man and the pastor God wants him to be. Through your prayers you can be a part of the sanctification process in the lives of these leaders. You can help him become more of the man of God that God wants him to be by your prayers, which will be of infinitely more value than your criticism.

Whether the Lord leads you to stay or leave, ask God to guide your heart and your tongue so you don’t develop a hard or bitter spirit and so you don’t become an instrument of criticism or division in the church. Hard as it may be, ask God to help you focus on and express gratitude for the many praise-worthy qualities that I’m sure exist in these men and in the church. Ultimately, here’s something else that’s important to remember: God doesn’t hold you responsible for what those men do, but only for how you respond to what they do.

Finally, when you feel discouraged or disillusioned about the condition of a particular church or the church in general, I’d encourage you to go back to the Word and rehearse God’s plan and God’s love for His church. I find that it helps to keep my eyes on the end of the story; the final outcome of the church is that she will be a beautiful bride without spot or blemish or any such thing. Like it or not, the church, warts and all, is crucial to you and me becoming all God intended us to be.

Praying for you,

Nancy

What do you think? Have you struggled with criticizing your church leaders?

I encourage you to meditate on these two verses from 1 Thessalonians 5: “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (vv. 12-13).

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula Marsteller

Paula has served with Revive Our Hearts for thirteen years. She is the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom. There's nothing she loves to share more than the gospel-centered truths that have so transformed her own life: what it means on a daily basis to be "dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus." Paula, Trevor, and their son, Iren, make their home in New York.