As I was thinking of the number of pastors who have experienced difficulty in their calling, I began to think of the various ways that people are bitten at church.
First, there are dog bites. The “dogs” in question here are referenced in Philippians where Paul warns people to beware of dogs. The biblical context are the Judaizers. These were strict legalists who had a semblance of religion, but were far outside of the church and the Christian faith. People, and many pastors, are often the objects of these types of bites. The secular world ridicules men of faith for being, well, men of faith. If you don’t believe in evolution, there must be something wrong with you. If you live a life separated from the world, you are weird. While these dog bites are frequent and annoying, they are seldom fatal.
The second kind of bite is the one that Jesus spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount referring to “wolfs in sheep’s clothing.” These are people who are inside the church, maybe even in leadership positions, but they do not have a relationship with Christ, but dress and act like they do. These wolfs are rather carnivorous, and love to take a bite out of the unsuspecting layman. They have a particular appetite for pastors. Their ethical model is carnal and of the flesh. They do not walk in the Spirit because they do not have the Spirit. Their bites can often prove fatal to the young believer, and the inexperienced pastor.
The third bite is the one that hurts the most. It is the sheep bite. This bite is inflicted by the believer inside the church; often a member to whom you are trying to minister and disciple. Because of the natural way that a sheep eats, it does not tear or rend its victim; rather it gnaws it and grinds it in its flattened teeth. Sheep tend to regurgitate their meal and gnaw on it over and over. While James warned us about those who would devour one another, the sheep bite, while being annoying, can often prove fatal as it never gives up! Once the sheep has learned how to rend and destroy the fellow believer or pastor, it often gets into a habit of such and the result is a fatality. Many a pastor has been gnawed over time and had to leave not only his church, but often the ministry.
There is a fourth bite that the Scripture mentions. Once again we find this mentioned in the book of James wherein he warns believers about Satan himself; the devil, Old Scratch. James said that the devil walks about like a ravenous lion looking for someone to eat. Many a Christian and many a pastor have been devoured by this lion. They are often unaware of how the devil operates. The devil operates by getting Christians to divide from one another. The very word “devil” itself means to divide. The name “Satan” means to accuse. Living up to his name, he accuses and divides believers and by separating out the weak, he goes in for the kill.
Are you a pastor or minister who has been bitten? Tell me your story. If the story is too sensitive to share openly, feel free to private message me on FB.