Rajkumar Richard spent his growing up years between India and Bahrain. He was addicted to drugs, smoking and drinking, but by the sheer grace of God he gave up those addictions between 1991 and 2000. He embraced Christ as his personal Savior and decided to pursue the Lord seriously. He completed a post-graduate degree in Biology at the Madurai Kamaraj University (1990) and also earned a second post-graduate degree in Religion at the Southern Evangelical Seminary, USA (2012). His fervent passion is to strengthen the faith of Christians, especially young Christians, by challenging their thought paradigm in themes that concern them. He is blessed with two lovely children: John and Joanna. More information can be found on his blog https://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in.
Good Christian churches are the need of the hour. An effective Christian church will essentially nurture spiritually powerful Christians.1 At the helm of an effective church is always a Pastor who will do everything that the Lord Jesus Christ wants him to do – the man after God’s own heart (cf. Acts 13: 22).
While we wish such churches are rampant in today’s world, we are often disappointed. A vast majority of churches around us are nowhere close to being spiritually effective. Spiritually effective churches need not necessarily boast a massive attendance or a massive bank balance or a massive growth. These material aspects do not indicate a spiritually powerful church.
The point that I wish to emphasize is rather basic and fundamental. The spiritual health of the church is directly proportional to the spiritual health of the Pastor who leads that church. If the Pastor of a church is spiritually effective – who will do everything that the Lord Jesus Christ wants him to do – the church that he/she leads will also be spiritually effective and powerful.
On the other hand, if the Pastor is spiritually weak, the church will also be spiritually weak. A spiritually weak church is doomed for destruction of the worst kind – a spiritual destruction that could have eternal implications. An article entitled “8 Dangerous Pastors Who Will Destroy Your Church” describes the characteristics of pastors who destroy the church.2 An excerpt from this article is mentioned below:
…Paul referred to those who would mutilate the church (think of wild dogs tearing into a defenseless victim), misuse the church (working their evil, which comes in all kinds of varieties) and mislead the church (pushing their false doctrine, in this case that believers had to be circumcised to be saved). I love the way Beeson Divinity School’s Frank Thielman puts it in the NIV Commentary, “Beware the curs! Beware the criminals! Beware the cutters!” All right. Beware of these preacher-types…
1. Single issue pastors
…a “single-issue candidate” has one big item on his mind, some change he or she wants to introduce …There are pastors like this, men who have one huge thing on their plate and all their sermons and programs revolve around it…In most cases, pastors need to be generalists, not specialists. They are called upon to be students and teachers of God’s word, to deliver great sermons, to administer the staff, and to oversee a church that ministers to all age groups, that ministers in the community and touches the world with the gospel. The church needs to be evangelistic, but also mission-minded, Bible-teaching and good stewards. There may be a place for a pastor who does one big thing well and all other aspects of the ministry do not interest him, but chances are, your church is not the place for him.
2. Politically ambitious pastors
In this case, it’s denominational politics. I’ve known pastors whose driving force was to become known throughout the Southern Baptist Convention and be elected for high office. Why in the world any right-thinking man of God would want that burden is beyond me, but I suppose it takes all types. The problem—well, one of many—is that he will be inclined to use the church to further his goals, even to the point of manipulating programming and misusing people.
3. The predators
Jesus spoke of shepherds who watch the sheep, hirelings who do not stick around when the sheep are threatened, and wolves who are the enemies of all sheep…A shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, Jesus said. A hireling has no appetite for conflict…is not devoted to the flock and skips town (or locks himself in his study!) at the first threat of trouble. The wolves are the ones who make the trouble (see Acts 20:28-30)… Sexual predators are the worst kind…
4. The combative
Paul told Pastor Timothy, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all… ” (II Timothy 2:24)….A combative personality in the pulpit can be entertaining the first time or two. But a steady diet of war-making from the shepherd gets old quick and brands your church as a warmongering congregation (since pastors tend to make the people like themselves).
5. The immature
Ministers who have never grown up tend to be quick to take offense, cannot handle correction and worry about their careers. Any criticism is unwelcome and the critic becomes marked as an enemy. Many immature pastors can be spotted by their use of slang, by their adolescent clothing and hair styles, and by their discomfort in associating with people old enough to be their parents and grandparents.
6. The mentally unhealthy
Now, poor mental health is a problem for humanity, not just one particular group. But you do not want in your pulpit a man (or woman, if your church allows women to serve as shepherds) who struggles with ego (either too much or too little), who is still trying to find his own identity, who has anger issues and whose fragile confidence always needs bolstering. Such leaders are trouble.
I suppose this is redundant, since most of the above indicates a pastor still fleshly and not spiritual. But I’m thinking of one pastor I knew who always had an off-color joke to share, could always be counted on to find a sexual slant to any incident, and who was critical of other ministers.
Does this pastor have friends in the ministry? Does he attend meetings of pastors in his city? Or does he isolate himself from his colleagues as though he fears contamination?...One of the most reliable indications of bad mental health in a pastor is his isolation. Whether from a lack of trust of other ministers or a sense of inferiority in himself, nothing good comes from his self-imposed protective quarantine.
Then there is the Selfish Pastor who cares only to retain his job. He would do just about anything to retain his job. The Self-Glorifying Pastor would so intently glorify himself that the Lord will decrease and he will increase in his church (cf. John 3: 30). The Make-All-People-Happy Pastor would only care to please everyone around him. When he strives to please the sinful man, he, most certainly, would betray the Lord. The Pro-Rich-Pro-Power Pastor would absolutely dedicate himself to serve the whims and fancies of the rich and powerful members of his congregation. This, in essence, is against the teaching of the Lord (cf. Matthew 6: 24, 19: 24). Pastors with these character traits would also destroy their church.
Having said this, an existential dilemma needs to be resolved. The dilemma is this, “What do we do if we worship in a church being led by a dangerous Pastor?”
In order to resolve this dilemma, we need to dig deep into the fundamentals of the Christian faith. The Bible teaches us to, first and foremost, love the Lord our God. Christ should lead our every thought, word and deed. (Man cannot lead us, God alone should lead us.)
We should be ardent disciples of the Triune God. Our prayer life should ensure our discernment of HIS will for our life. We should be diligent students of God’s Word. Thus we will remain in Christ always.
When we remain in Christ, we would be able to discern the Lord’s directive to resolve this, and every dilemma, that may assault our Christian existence.
1 Spiritually powerful churches or spiritually powerful Christians would love the Lord Jesus more than anything else in this world. They would constantly worship and grow in HIM. They would always remain in Christ so to recognize and defeat the schemes of the evil one. Since they know that they have been saved by the grace of God, they will be gracious in all their interpersonal relationships. They would be in the world but not of the world.