One of the benefits of reading multiple sources is that you get hammered on the same issue in multiple ways. This could be a fluke – or divine providence.
I’ve always loved this Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote:
A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to a pastor that he may become its accuser before God and man. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Jared Wilson quoted this in a post the other day that also quoted these words from Ray Ortlund:
When the risen Lord of the church sends you to a people as their pastor, he is not sending you to them as their critic but as their friend. They may be immature. They may be bogged down in tradition or dazzled by neomania. But they are yours by the gracious appointment of Christ, and you will know them forever. If you hope for the gospel to work in their hearts with power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction, as of course you do, then don’t just preach to them; desire them. Desire not what they can do for you but what you can do for them. Love them, enjoy them, delight in them, honor them. When other pastors gripe about their churches, you set another tone. Lift your people up. Be their champion and defender. They are your glory and joy at the Second Coming.
Ortlund also quoted Spurgeon:
A man must have a great heart, if he would have a great congregation. His heart should be as capacious as those noble harbors along our coast, which contain sea-room for a fleet. When a man has a large, loving heart, men go to him as ships to a haven and feel at peace when they have anchored under the lee of his friendship.
And then I came across this by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
on Sunday night:
Richard Cecil, an Anglican preacher in London towards the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth said something which should make all of us think: “To love to preach is one thing, to love those to whom we preach quite another.” The trouble with some of us is that we love preaching, but we are not always careful to make sure we love the people to whom we are actually preaching.
I’m getting hammered from all sides on this one. I love the congregation that I pastor – but I do recognize how easy it is to slip into criticism and complaint. These quotes are a good reminder for all who pastor. I know they’re a good reminder to me.