On the previous edition of The Pastor’s Coach, we talked about how antagonism is disheartening and bogging down many pastors across the world, and some are giving up. It’s too hard on their marriages and their families.
But you can identify and deal with an antagonist being used of Satan to stop the work God has envisioned and planned for you. The devil is a dream-stealer, and one of his favorite tactics is to find a “useful idiot” who doesn’t even realize he’s being used by the evil one.
How do you identify infected, contagious antagonists in the Church?
There may be one or more indicators that someone is trying to infect you with the devilish microbial of antagonism.
- Questioning your “wisdom” and the “wisdom” of others constantly
- Subtle slander and sarcasm
- Nervousness and agitation (legs shaking under the table, etc.)
- Exaggerations and outright falsehoods
- Frustration, arrogance, and knit-picking
- False concern about areas outside his or her realm of authority
- He or she may claim to be a “change agent” to justify antagonism toward authority
- Claiming “lots of people” are upset or going to start a revolution, split, etc. Or saying things like, “I’ve had some authority check this out …” or “I’ve talked with several people …”
- Accusing those they oppose as having “loose theology,” or bad doctrine. (By the way, John Wesley, Charles Finney, Smith Wigglesworth, and D.L. Moody were all accused of this.) If a rebellious-hearted antagonist cannot stop a message, he’ll try to neutralize the messenger every time.
- Minimizing and marginalizing the leadership currently in place
- Claiming concern for the church and you, often using flattery or gifts to soften you up for their bacteria-soaked “stinger.”
- Flattering key people with insincere compliments to gain their support
- Secretly plotting with others who are like-minded or offended, the way Absalom did to David and the way the Pharisees did to Jesus.
Matthew 26:3-4 ESV
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas,
and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.
Sometimes antagonists are dealing with something they don’t understand.
Judas Iscariot probably didn’t realize what he was doing until it was too late. That’s why, perhaps, Jesus instructed us to pray for our enemies. They don’t know what they are doing and the subsequent consequences they’ll face as a result.
Satan has always been clever, but not wise. He somehow convinced one-third of God’s angelic staff to rebel. And his tactics are the same today.
John 10:10 AMPL
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).
My Suggestions for You:
1. Keep your hands clean (spiritually)
2. Stay washed up daily (spiritually and mentally)
3. Test the spirits, whether they be of God
I John 4:1 MSG
My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.
4. If you are approached by a “carrier,” have your immune system engaged:
Ask the carrier,
- “Why are you telling me this?”
- “Where did you get your information?”
- “Have you gone directly to the person?”
- “Have you checked out your facts?” And,
- “Do you mind if I quote you on this?”
Leviticus 19:16 NLT
“Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the Lord.
5. Read books
Antagonists in the Church: How to Identify and Deal with Destructive Conflict by Kenneth C. Haugk and my book, The Spirit of Antagonism. And get the book, Get Over It! by Kate McVeigh. It identifies precisely what offenses can do in a person’s life when they are unresolved, and how Satan’s strategy is implemented through offenses.
Remember this: Trying to sincerely share your heart, or speak into the life of an antagonist is fruitless. He will misread your intentions, twist your words, reframe events, and his intimidations will increase in intensity.
6. You must disassociate yourself with the antagonist while standing your ground to defend the realm of authority you possess from God.
7. Run to Jesus, sit at His feet, and don’t say anything until He clearly lays it on your heart. And practice warfare prayers. Watch God move on your behalf, and be grateful for the opportunity to grow.
My precious fellow minister, you can identify and deal with the spiritual bacteria every pastor faces from time-to-time. Be comforted in knowing that the New Testament believers faced the same situations you have faced.
You are going over—not under!
God has called you to a glorious ministry of imparting not religion, but real life in Jesus to countless souls. Spiritual bacteria and infections must be stopped. Use God’s Word as the antidote and God’s Spirit will be your strength. He has given you discernment—the divine defense against deception. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
May God keep you and your church healthy in every way!