Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 NIV
I know this is a long passage, but it all just seemed relevant to life today. My emphasis is in verse 13: “Live in peace with each other.” I read an article in a Christian leadership magazine this week that said 1/3 of all pastors have seriously considered leaving the ministry during the pandemic. Some are frustrated because of the shift in methods necessary to survive in this environment. One said he no longer felt like a shepherd. He is now a TV producer. People expected pastors to continue to provide teaching and support in crisis, while simultaneously producing a weekly broadcast with network-like production values. It can’t be done by the 80% of churches that aren’t mega.
But the biggest stressor for those considering walking away isn’t the virus or the economy. It’s the sheep. Specifically, pastors are horrified at the behavior of their people. Many began fighting among themselves over political issues: Trump or never-Trump, the color of lives that matter, or whether to mask or vaccinate. Very public and very hostile interactions between “Christians” have not been uncommon. Many pastors were personally and openly condemned by people into whom they have invested their lives for years. Some were cursed for opening, some for closing, some for requiring masks, others for failing to do so. For many, the weight of such pressure from their home team is unbearable. One pastor said it’s not worth the threat to his family and his health. Another said the pandemic revealed just how bad he was at his job: apparently very few disciples have been made. (See John 13:35)
So, I reiterate Paul’s statement: “Live in peace with each other.” Do it!