“What he said was wrong. It was a lie. I believed him. I trusted him. I just won’t be able to trust him again.” The shock, hurt, and betrayal he felt was obvious and so raw as the words poured from my boss’s lips. He was talking about the bishop of our church at the time.
As a teenager, I probably should have just listened and nodded, but I couldn’t help but to ask, “Does he actually believe what he is saying is true?”
“Yes, he believes every last word,” was the reply.
Okay, now, honestly, I’m confused. I had to admit my confusion, “I don’t understand. It seems to me that he has every right to believe whatever he wants to believe. He also has every right to share his beliefs with you. Then, it is up to you to decide whether to accept his beliefs as your own or not.”
…and I still don’t get it. I just don’t understand those people who hang onto every last word from a preacher’s mouth as though it is Gospel Truth. You know what is Gospel Truth? The Gospel! That is all. Nothing else.
I suppose I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my parents. Every Sunday after church, they would debate the points of the sermon. They agreed with some points and disagreed with others citing scriptures to support their views. I thought everybody did this. Boy, was I wrong!
It looks something like this… “Since the preacher recommended the book, I thought it had to be truth, but then I started finding all these mistakes and scriptures taken out of context…”
Well, I hope your preacher also recommends the Bible. It is truth. Now, your interpretation of that truth may be another story… mine, too. The cool thing is that our interpretations become less flawed as we spend more time with God in prayer, Bible study, and worship. The Holy Spirit will show you what you need to see when you need to see it.
Do I believe everything my preacher says? Obviously not. I believe everything that I recognize to be in line with the Bible. The rest, I either study it out and pray for discernment, or I scrap it. Sometimes, there are spiritual lessons I’m just not ready to receive yet. When I am ready, the Holy Spirit will tap the seed so it can sprout and grow in my life. Everything has a time and a purpose. Other times, the preacher missed the mark. It happens.
Let’s not mistake blind trust for respect. Just as I’m so heavily against blind trust, I’m just as passionately for respect. Even when a preacher misses the mark, he is still a servant of the Living God. He is always deserving of respect simply because he is the leader of a church. He deserves respect even if he fails. He deserves respect even when he stumbles. He deserves respect even when his ministry completely falls apart. Respect is not the same thing as amnesty. Respect is attitude. Respect is recognition that he was used mightily by God. Respect is knowing that souls destined for hell will walk the streets of Heaven because he allowed God to speak through him.
I recently made a comment on a Facebook status about respecting preachers. Naturally, someone had to chime in with, “Respect is earned.” What a cop out! Any person in all of history (with the obvious exception of Christ) has done something that has made him/her unworthy of respect. If respect truly is earned, then you have every right to disrespect every person you ever meet… which sadly seems to be the current trend.
What do we really have to lose by giving respect to those who (we perceive) haven’t earned it? Nothing. In fact, we’re likely to receive respect in return. It happens.