It is certainly no secret and will come as no surprise, especially to pastors, that pastoring the local New Testament Church has undergone some profound changes in the last several years. Pastoring has always had its challenges on the best of days but every seasoned servant of the Lord will admit the past several years have been unlike any in recent history. The advent of the internet and social media has created a climate for the critic and the coward that breaches all Biblical principles and has sent many pastors fleeing for cover because sometimes even their most trusted leaders are deceived to believe that “if it is on the internet it must be true.” Yes, it is true that there are times when the internet serves to protect us from religious charlatans and false shepherds that are fleecing the flock. That is not the subject of this article.
Can you imagine what a Google search would have produced had the internet existed in the Apostle Paul’s day? Or how vicious the Temple and Sanhedrin websites would have been in regards to our Lord Jesus as he turned the religious world upside down during his earthly ministry. I am blessed to pastor a church that operates under Biblical authority and in spiritual discernment when it comes to their pastor, my pastoral team and our leadership being falsely and maliciously attacked. The motivation of this article is to help other pastors and their leadership with some Biblical and practical ways to protect the ones they love and lead in the ministry of the Gospel. The following is by no means exhaustive but, it is my sincere hope that these simple insights will help you stay the course and keep your eyes on the prize of your high calling to ministry of the Gospel.
1.) Do not read the demonic attacks posted against you. If you are a pastor and you are being attacked online, do not give place to the demonic arrows in your heart and mind (Ephesians 4:27). I realize this is easier said than done because naturally we want to defend the integrity of our ministry against false accusations. And this brings us to the next very important suggestion.
2.) Do not defend yourself. Exodus 14:14 says, “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” God will reveal the truth and the real motive of those attacking you . . . in His sovereign time. This does not mean that we never say anything in the battle or even to those launching the unbiblical attacks against us. Nehemiah gives us a great example of the balance when we are in the battle when he said, “So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?" (Nehemiah 6:3). It is also worth noting that Nehemiah “sent messengers to them” and didn’t leave his place of leadership.
3.) Enlist the Sons of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32). If you are a leader in the church, you need to realize that often the motive of those attacking your pastor is to cover up and/or deflect the truth about their own moral, ethical and biblical failure from being revealed. As a leader, deacon, staff member and believer you must protect your pastor and the fellowship of your church family. Stop receiving and spreading lies about your pastor and leadership. Do not even “entertain” such accusations (1 Timothy 5:19). Remember, it takes no size to criticize. The Bible speaks clearly about how we are deal with this issue . . .
Exodus 23:1 – “Do not spread false reports.”
Leviticus 19:16 – “Do not go about spreading slander among your people.”
Proverbs 11:9 – “With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,”
Proverbs 16:28 – A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”
James 4:11 – “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another.”
4.) Many believe, especially pastors, that if their church is growing, souls are being saved and disciples are being developed that the critic will be silenced and attacks will cease. Trust me when I say from experience that is exactly when you should expect to be attacked. Beloved, the Devil doesn’t waste time attacking those who are not a threat to his dominion of darkness. I pastor a church that has experienced over 700 additions, financial receipts have doubled, we voted overwhelmingly to relocate, the church is listed in the top 25 of 3,500 Tennessee Baptists churches for baptisms and all of this has happened in the last two and a half years. Trust me when I say growth is not an antidote to being attacked – it is an invitation. The Devil is not going to set on the sidelines and cheer you on as chains of addiction are broken and prison doors are opened. If you set your heart to chase after God, be assured the more you lead your people to go and grow the more intense the attacks are going to be against you.
5.) Perhaps the most haunting question in the heart of many pastors is how the online attacks will affect their ministry in the future. This is a legitimate concern but to be very honest, if a pastor search team, church and/or ministry is willing to give credence to online critics, you do not want to pastor that church or align yourself with such a ministry. If the people you are potentially going to lead are unscriptural in entertaining the unbiblical attacks against you, you can be assured you will not be able to lead them with Scriptural authority in the future (Hebrews 13:17). Simply stated, if they will not obey the principles of the Bible before you become their pastor, you had better know they will not obey them after you become their pastor (1 Timothy 5:19). I would add a major concern would be their inability to spiritually discern the demonic activity of such attacks and I certainly would be leery of leading such a group into any significant spiritual battles.
6.) This is very important. So much of the frustration a pastor experiences comes from the fact that they operate under the authority and integrity of the Holy Scriptures, refusing to return evil for evil (1 Peter 3:9). Obviously, the keyboard cowards and spirit of Jezebel crowd do not operate within a mile of any biblical principles. Scripture says “the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart” (Psalm 11:2). These “satanic snipers” have a way of making themselves appear bigger than they really are and we tend to give them way too much attention at the expense of those that love and support us in the work of the ministry. Pastor, most of the time those that love you, believe in you and support you will vastly outnumber those who don’t. It’s part of our humanity to want everyone to like us but not only is that never going to happen, the Bible warns us “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6:26). When Timothy was facing similar circumstances as a pastor, the Apostle Paul instructed him to find some “faithful men” and raise them up in truth that they may be able to raise up others in the truth (2 Timothy 2:2). I am blessed to serve with some “faithful men” that are “living epistles” (2 Corinthians 3:2) and God uses them to remind me that our labor is not in vain and the devil is a liar. Pastors, ask God to put men like that around you and then pray that HE would remove the double-minded, compromising, bureaucratic, By-Law quoting crowd that vexes the godly and grieves His Holy Spirit.
Lastly brothers, I know we all grow weary of the relentless and baseless attacks by the cowards that hide behind a computer screen twisting every word we say. Suicides among pastors have increased dramatically over the last several years and some attribute this in part to the onslaught of online attacks against pastors and their families. We are living in the last of the Last Days. Satan and his demons are stirred up (Revelation 12:12). It is getting gloriously dark and soon we are going to step from this land of the dying and lying in the city of life and truth. One day we are going to step inside the gate of Glory and the Apostle Paul may well ask us how we finished our race. Can you imagine if our answer is “Well, Paul, actually I didn’t finish my race because some idiot starting blogging about me.” “Blogging?” says the Apostle Paul, “I was flogged and you gave up your crown because of a blog?” Stay the course beloved! There are untold souls not ready to step into eternity so keep going and sharing the love of the only one worthy, our Messiah Jesus.