Every pastor faces criticism. Any time a person steps up to serve the Lord and accomplish God’s mission, he will place himself in the crosshairs of criticism. In most cases, though, the criticism does not come from people outside the body of believers, but instead the criticism comes from the very people within the church.
While walking through dark seasons of ministry where my intentions and actions were questioned, I have asked, “Where are the leaders of the church who will stand up and defend the pastor?” Under false criticism, a pastor is often isolated because few want to stand up and face the same criticism and scrutiny.
Often, when I see others criticized, I do not step up out of fear of entering the conflict.
Over the past few weeks I have seen articles and blogs taking cheap shots at JD Greear. These articles have called him a liberal and a biblically unfaithful man, and they have attempted to paint him as a man ashamed of being called Southern Baptist. Truthfully, I shrugged these articles and blogs off. The world is full of internet trolls, even among us Southern Baptists.
It is no secret that the Louisiana Baptist Convention is encouraging their churches to attend the Southern Baptist Convention so that they might vote for Ken Hemphill instead of JD Greear in the upcoming presidential election. The convention has actively promoted Hemphill in the Baptist Message and on a tour of churches where he holds town hall meetings. As a pastor here in Louisiana, I received an email highlighting the strengths of Hemphill and encouraging me to attend one of the town hall gatherings.
To be clear, I believe Ken Hemphill would make an outstanding SBC President.
This morning I came across an article written in the Baptist Message. The article is clearly written with a bent towards smearing JD Greear. In this article, Hill “asks questions” and then responds to those questions by taking Greear’s words out of context and shaping the article to slander the pastor. This article lacks the intellectual honesty which should be expected at any professional level. Hill’s article is purposely written to vilify a man who has served his church, our convention, and the foreign mission field faithfully.
This was my tipping point. Watching my convention purposely attack a fellow pastor led me to speak up. I could not sit quietly in fear while brothers in Christ attacked the faithfulness and character of another pastor. I do not want to be another leader who sits idly by when he knows evil is committed against a brother and yet chooses to do nothing.
The Bible is clear in in regards to how we should treat one another. The book of Ephesians states plainly, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” The way we communicate about one another is a witness to the world around us.
If Greear is in doctrinal error, we should certainly approach him, but even in that, the Scripture teaches that we are to go to him personally (Mt. 18).
Greear is not in doctrinal error. The blogs and articles that have surfaced about him are political and should have no place in the SBC.
I am proudly a Southern Baptist, and dearly hope that we are better than petty politics.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4)