I have been traveling a lot in the past couple years, doing conferences, minister’s conventions, and other large and smaller venues. I’ve had the wonderful experience of meeting great, servant-hearted, Spirit-filled ministers in many of our states.
Unfortunately, a theme keeps resurfacing. Pastors are asking, “Why do antagonists block me from achieving the vision God put on my heart?” “Why do I have so much resistance from people I thought were spiritual?” “Why does it feel like I’m spinning my wheels to appease the few, at the expense of the many?”
Many pastors are becoming disheartened by the conflict antagonists bring
At a General Presbyter meeting in Springfield, we heard the shocking statistics during a devotional time: 37 out of 40 ministers are not finishing out their ministerial calling. Only three out of 40 are going the distance.
It seems more challenging to lead a church or a group than ever. Why is that?
One major reason is the number of antagonists who present themselves as “God’s Watchdogs” over the leader. They question the leader’s motives, sincerity, and capabilities. They invent ways of bogging down the leader’s vision, tying his (or her) hands. They are thieves of the leader’s time.
They see themselves as wiser than anyone else and feel a certain “call” to antagonize and micromanage the leader. They say they’re doing it for the sake of the church, the fellowship, the district, the denomination, or any number of altruistic “causes.”
Unfortunately, in over 30 years of ministry, I’ve observed that their “causes” are rarely what they profess. Instead, with a hidden agenda, they seek to infect the body with a spiritual bacterium of sorts. And some types of bacteria cause far more damage to a body than others.
You’ve probably heard of MRSA, the drug-resistant flesh-eating bacteria. I’ve known three people exposed to MRSA. It’s not pretty.
Now there is another threat on the scene. It’s called “C-difficile.” Its symptoms range from annoyances, like diarrhea, fever, cramps, nausea to more severe troubles: blood poisoning, sepsis, kidney failure, and death. Interestingly enough, Jesus Himself prophesied “pestilences” like these just before His coming.
This toxin-producing bacterium has now morphed into a violent epidemic strain.
It is a genuine physical threat.
But there are similar and even more dangerous threats in the spirit realm.
The Church is a Body
Paul likened the Church to a body. We are the “body of Christ.”
On this earth, we find microcosms of Christ’s body. We call them local churches, fellowships, denominations, or groups.
If a church member is infected, and he’s not dealt with swiftly, that person can infect many innocent believers, bringing sickness to the body.
Just as doctors can diagnose a dangerous infection, we, as Christian leaders must be able to discern when a dangerous spiritual germ has infected someone. Spiritual germs go from person-to-person, the same way the C-difficile or MRSA bacteria are passed.
I know a man who physically lost a leg to the flesh-eating bacteria, MRSA. Some churches and districts are losing “parts” because the spiritual bacteria had not been dealt with quickly enough.
Before you can properly deal with something, you must identify what it is. You cannot treat a viral infection with an antibiotic. It won’t work. Similarly, you cannot treat a spiritual infection with a treatment designed for another condition.
The infected antagonist typically begins his comments with “disclaimers.” For example:
- “I don’t want to be misunderstood, but I’m concerned about …”
- “I don’t mean to complain, and I’m only one voice, but …”
- “I don’t mean to sound critical, but …”
- “I love you pastor, but …”
- “I’m only saying this because I’m concerned about you.”
The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary added a course, which, among other issues, covers dealing with antagonists in the Church.
An infected person who is trying to infect you knows he has to convince you of four things:
- His own personal wisdom or authority
- His superior knowledge or “insider information”
- His concern for you (even though it’s disingenuous)
- His exaggerated picture that “things” are far worse than they really are (he’ll often use exaggerated or skewed statistics and half-truths)
Next time on the Pastor’s Coach, I want to show you fourteen ways to recognize a spiritually infected antagonist and check out my book The Spirit of Antagonism, or The Spirit of Antagonism audio set (also available for instant download) for further study.