Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Pastors, We Are Not Martyrs
I know after reading the title of this post, many are popping their fingers, ready to fire off a correction to my post. But first, give me a chance to explain myself. The title is not implying we could not or should not be martyrs for the faith. If placed in that position, to renounce Jesus or die, I believe pastors and all believers should affirm with Luther, "Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God." I am emphasizing something entirely different, namely, that the difficulties we face as pastors do not equal martyrdom. We should stop acting like martyrs. This is particularly true for those of us in the United States.
I see a growing trend with pastors and ministry leaders who want to portray being in ministry as if it were a daily burden. We often go from one over-exaggerated crisis to the next. Yes, being a pastor is incredibly difficult, I do not belittle that. I have been a senior pastor for nearly eight years. I get it. I know what it feels like to have a burden for the lost, who think you are foolish. And I know what it feels like to have a burden for the church, who can often assume your incompetent. I have been called names in the community by unbelievers because of my beliefs. I have also been publicly talked about by other pastors in the community because they do not like our church's music style or clothing attire. Regardless of who you are, this is never fun.
However, as much as these things can hurt and frustrate you, it is not martyrdom. Friends, we are not to desire or seek the pity of others for the difficulties we face. And we should definitely now wallow in self-pity.
There are believers and pastors today, around the world, who are truly being persecuted and martyred for their faith. When you look at the plight of believers in places like Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Sudan, North Africa, and parts of Asia, you actually find individuals are dying for their allegiance to Jesus. Seventy-Five Christians were killed a few months ago in a church in Pakistan after two suicide bombers blew the place up. It is reported that nearly eighty people were executed in North Korea in the last few weeks, supposedly for being found owning Bibles.
Friends, these stories could fill pages and pages. Christians are truly experiencing persecution around the world. Yes, there is some opposition to our beliefs in the United States. Yes, we are becoming a minority on particular cultural hot-topic issues. But brothers, we are not martyrs.
There are believers and pastors around the world dying for the name of Jesus, not simply being called bad names because of Jesus. We need to keep that in perspective as we talk with others, interact on Twitter/Facebook, write our blog posts, and preach our sermons. Your ability to complain without fear is evidence you are not as persecuted as you think.
I'd love to hear your thoughts...why do you think so many in ministry today want to portray their life as so incredibly difficult?
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