In Paul’s writing to the church in Ephesus, he concluded in chapter 6 with an important thought that we should take very seriously when trying to determine who the real enemy is for the pastor and people of a congregation. He writes: “ Finally, be strengthened by the LORD and His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the cosmic powers of thesis darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.”
As church leaders we are constantly facing obstacle and challenges in our efforts to lead God’s congregation to find and fulfill the perfect will of God. We we were given the Great Commission to carry into the world. However, there are plenty of challenges for us to accomplish this. Martin Luther said, “For where God built a church, there the devil would also build his chapel” Many times these problems are being identified as people who oppose the process. The devil will use individuals to distract and at times even derail the process. These individuals can discourage and deter God’s people from being all they can be in Christ Jesus. When this happens then God’s kingdom purpose for the congregation is squelched.
We are going to face challenges when we are following God’s plan. We need to constantly remember who our true enemy is and who we are fighting against. Remember people are not our enemy. As we face the challenges in our ministry, we can take encouragement fro David Nixon’s seven key advices. (Leading the Comeback Church pages 97-98). They are: 1. Know what you believe. Don’t try to undermine the faith and practice of others who may differ from you. 2. Understand that conflict cant always be avoided. You may prefer to be perceived as helpful and friendly and to have everyone like you, bu correction is part of a leader’s job … confrontation is often necessary and may lead to positive results. 3. Acting right is a important as being right. Other this is as simple as staying calm in the midst of the storm of controversy … being like Jesus is the goal. 4. Refuse to demonize believer who differ from you. 5. Never attempt to Chang another denomination’s theology. Find one that fits what you believe. 6. Clarify only what is essential. Don’t try to answer ever criticism. And 7. Do no harm. If you cant put out the fire, at least don’t fan the fire.
These seven points are key to how we approach and handle the obstacles and challenges we face as we fulfill the ministry God has called us to do with Him. (2 Timothy 2:14-19)