One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Sunday, February 9, 2014: Matthew 26:14-46
31 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Matthew 26:31-32 (NKJV)
There is an all-out satanic attack today against leadership. We are witnessing an
unprecedented failure rate at the leadership level of the Church. Whether it be the child-abuse scandal plaguing the Roman Catholic Church or the divorce rate within Protestant Christianity, pastors, priests, and leaders are dropping at an alarming rate.
Jesus quoted the prophet Zachariah citing one of Satan's major strategies against the Church. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered." (Matt. 26:31; Zech. 13:7) Current statistics point to serious problems. It is reported that 1,700 pastors are leaving their posts each MONTH! Some because of depression. Some because of moral lapse. Some because of burnout.
There are numerous practical reasons pastors and leaders are picked off. Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway Resources, lists 7:
1. 24/7 mentality. Inability to "turn off" the work mind. Unable to relax.
2. Conflict. One crisis situation after another can finally take its toll. Combine that with enduring criticism and the results are lethal.
3. Expectations. This can be 2-fold: 1) unrealistic expectation of superior spirituality and 2) the expectation of success and church growth. Combined they set a standard no one can meet.
4. Unwilling to let go. Failure to delegate minor tasks. Work degrades into thankless management of minutiae.
5. No Friends. Leaders can isolate themselves. Pastor's find themselves being caught in church politics and can't show favoritism. Therefore, never are able to "let their hair down" and really love people.
6. Not suited for some tasks. Pride or sensing the need to perform can lead some pastors to take on roles for which they are ill-fitted. This is a formula for frustration.
7. No life outside the church. Lack of hobbies or recreational activities.
I believe Dr. Rainer is right. These are issues that "strike the shepherd". I will add one more. A divided and ineffective church is at the top of Satan's game plan. If the devil can nullify and eliminate the ministry of the church, he will have free access to the souls of millions.
This is why there is an attack of temptation and harassment against God's leaders in our day. "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered." This ranges from pastors and priests to elders and deacons -- the entirety of Christian leadership. I have witnessed in my own congregation the heightened spiritual attack that accompanies men and their families being promoted to higher levels of authority and effectiveness.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our struggle is not purely practical. It is spiritual at its root dealing with a cunning enemy who seeks to steal, to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10). This is, therefore, a call to prayer and vigilance on behalf of shepherds. Leadership is under fire. God has granted weapons with which to win this war (II Co. 10:4).
If Satan tries to strike your shepherd, resolve to make him sorry he ever messed with you, your shepherd, or your church. Let's go on the offensive. The gates of Hell will not prevail against a strong, united, obedient Church! (Matt. 16:18)