Stay in your place | Faith
by The Press and Standard | September 30, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: September 25, 2018 at 4:16 pm
On this past Sunday afternoon, I was invited to serve as the mistress of ceremonies for the sixth annual pastoral anniversary of our dear friend, Dr. Gerlend Crawford, pastor of New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Walterboro. “A Pastor Chosen by God” was the theme for the occasion. The Rev. Harry Jenkins, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in Round O, delivered the anniversary sermon, “A Gift to New Jerusalem.”
What a celebration! Needless to say, we had a high time in the Lord. As the service went on, I shared some advice with the congregation. One of the things that I shared is that there is only one pastor in the church, and the members need to always remember and respect that. The pastor takes his or her orders from God, not the congregation. (I am not going to sugarcoat this message in any way.)
In some churches, you have officers and members who try to rule the pastor and the congregation. In other words, they want to tell the pastor what to do. That is out of order. The pastor is your leader, and your leader is a gift from God. Support your pastor and do not talk against him or her. Remember that the pastor is called by God, not the members. Therefore, pastors have a duty to perform as ordained by God.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, in chapter 4:1-3 (ESV) he said, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Consequently, members, stay in your place, and allow the pastor to lead.
Further, I shared with the congregation at Dr. Crawford’s anniversary that being a pastor is not an easy job. Even though I have never served as a pastor, my dear mother was a pastor for 21 years before she retired. She licensed me as a minister in 2002. My mother and I always spent a lot of time together. Therefore, there were times when I would see her cry, so I knew there were some things in her pastoral assignment that weren’t going just right. However, she never let that stop her from serving and praising God and leading His sheep.
There were times that my mother did not even get her salary, but she never complained. God chose her to lead His people, and she did it faithfully until she could no longer serve. That is why my sister, Dianna McNeil and I, chose the theme, “May the Work I’ve Done Speak for Me,” for her obituary and her grave marker.
Paul went on to tell the Ephesians in this same chapter in verses 11-14 (ESV), “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
Therefore, one of the pastor’s main responsibilities is to prepare, qualify, and train the saints to go out to be witnesses for Christ. In Rev. Jenkins’ sermon for this celebration on last Sunday, he informed the congregation that Dr. Crawford was a gift from God to them, and all they needed to do was listen and follow her lead. Further, he advised them not to speak against their pastor, and don’t allow anyone else to do it. Again, members, stay in your place.
Aside from the lessons we taught and learned at the celebration, my hat is off to the New Jerusalem church family. They truly showed Dr. Crawford that they love her. The service was well-planned, and she was showered with many tributes of honor and gifts. The guest choir, Heavenly Baptist Church, under the dynamic leadership of Rev. Jake Wright, most definitely showed her some real love. They postponed a program they had already planned in order to be there to help Dr. Crawford celebrate her special day, and they came in large numbers. The reception afterwards was first-class. The beautiful table decorations and the delicious variety of food! What an awesome time of fellowshipping!
Again, another point that I made, give your pastor his or her flowers while he or she is alive. For Dr. Crawford, New Jerusalem did that on Sunday! Special thanks to my sister and dear friend, Sis. Millie Murray, for choosing me as the mistress of ceremonies. Everyone, remember that your pastor is a gift from God. Treat your pastor as you would a gift that you love and appreciate.
Is the pastor always right? No. However, don’t rebuke your pastor; let God do that because He said in His Word, “…Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm” (1 Chronicles 16:22 KJV). Stay in your place. If you are disgruntled, it is better to move on than “to fight” the pastor.
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)