Sometimes pastors must exhort their church in areas that they may be struggling in or could at least improve in. Perhaps it’s exhorting them to be more generous (as we have been doing in my church the last 5 weeks through our “We LOVE Giving” series about generosity)…or perhaps it’s about tithing…or perhaps it’s about loving people…or perhaps it’s about worship.
Either way, there comes a time in every pastor’s ministry where these kinds of exhortations (and more) have to be made. Sometimes privately. Sometimes publicly. But they must be made.
This past Sunday at my church was one of those Sundays. Our worship seemed….well…let’s be real here…BLAH! It seemed BLAH! It was as if someone had sucked the joy right out of the room even though we were singing about our champion, Jesus Christ, who took the sin of the world on Him and died for us…and then rising from the dead he conquered the grave. And yet we looked and sounded like we were at a funeral. We certainly didn’t look like we were celebrating the resurrection of THE King who defeated death!
Don’t get me wrong! I love my church. The people are great. And most Sunday’s we understand and exhibit real worship from the heart and soul without any exhortation.
But as the campus pastor AND worship leader of my church, I decided it was time to take the moment to exhort the church to get back to a right mindset of worship. Back to a right mindset of WHO we worship.
And thankfully the Church received it well.
Shouts and claps and amens abounded.
And we started back into worship and there was a shift in the atmosphere at that point.
A good shift.
And our worship got back on track.
But, after service…after dinner at some point…I had some time to reflect on the day…and a thought came to my mind:
As a pastor, I need to be careful when leading God’s people to not let myself pull a Moses. I cannot allow myself to get so frustrated with the people that I act out in anger toward the people and ultimately in disobedience to God.
In other words, I cannot let myself get so mad at the church that I start slapping rocks.
That’s what Moses did in Numbers 20. And it didn’t turn out well for him.
Here is what God commanded him and his brother Aaron to do in verse 8:
“Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.”
God said for him to take his staff, go before the people, and speak to the rock and water will come out of the rock for the people and animals to drink.
BUT here is what Moses ACTUALLY did in verses 9-11:
So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod, and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.
Umm…Moses…hey man…God said, “speak to the rock”…not “slap the rock” with your rod. He also didn’t say to call the people names while you were at it.
And thus we see God immediately rebuking them in verses 12-13:
But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Those were the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with the LORD, and He proved Himself holy among them.
The moral of this story? Church people can be frustrating.
Complaints often come in from several directions at once and they can all seem petty.
But despite how the Church may act, the Pastor, while he may very well be led by God to exhort the church back to a right spirit and mindset, has to be careful not to strike out at the people in anger and be moved to a place of disobedience towards God in the process.
I get it…it’s a fine line between exhortation and slapping rocks. But we have to be mindful of the line and discern where we are and be able to exhibit self-control in heated moments.
Not sure what it looks like? Check out this video of a Pastor Slapping Rocks: https://youtu.be/s13gtXqwRqk
I mean we’re shepherds…not miners. We’re called to tend the sheep…not smack them.
Wanna smack something or someone? Smack the enemy.
Otherwise, the Pastor may find himself forfeiting his chance to see the promised land with the people–that is–the place where God is leading that church body that God has placed that Pastor over.
This isn’t suggesting a pastor will lose his salvation because of this. Just simply stating that as pastors we have a responsibility to try and exhort the sheep without bludgeoning the sheep to death.
We may be the shepherds, but we aren’t the masters.
We don’t own the sheep. They are God’s and God’s alone.
So Pastor’s…exhort your church when necessary…but always be careful that you don’t find yourself slapping rocks instead.