Today is President’s Day. It’s always the third Monday in February and started as celebrating the lives and birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Over the years it has morphed into the celebration of the lives of all presidents who have served the United States, both past and present. I think it’s good to take time to remember our leaders. Politically our country is divided. It seems like most politicians are self-centered and corrupt. It seems like most leaders wanted to get elected for personal gain, but in the rare cases there are a few who volunteered to take this position to help serve their people and better this country.
It doesn’t matter where they are, our leaders are often some of the most criticized people around. It doesn’t matter if they’re politicians, teachers, administrators, bosses, parents, coaches, or even our elders and preachers. Those who are in a position that is more visible to the public or the group they are leading are often the most criticized among the group.
Speaking about teachers of the Gospel, James says, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (3:1). I’ve always seen this verse with two applications. First, our Gospel teachers, preachers and elders will endure a stricter judgment from God based on what they teach. Are they teaching error or truth? Are they leading people to life or death? Are they sugarcoating the Gospel of Christ and telling people what they want to hear or are they telling people what they need to hear? Our teachers and preachers need to preach truth…they will be judged for it.
Second, our teachers, preachers and elders often receive a stricter judgment from their fellow brothers and sisters. It’s the preacher that takes the heat when a sermon falls flat and you leave feeling “discouraged.” It’s the elders that take the heat when people don’t like the direction the church is going. It’s the teachers who get blamed for the “boring” Bible classes. The preacher is blamed for declining numbers and contribution (often losing his job). When there is a problem in the church, the elders and preacher are often on the front lines and take the “stricter judgment.” After years of preaching the Gospel, most criticism I’ve heard be thrown at preachers and elders comes not from a place of merit, but from a place of discontent and searching for a reason to complain or leave. Nine times out of ten, people already have their foot out the door and put blame not on themselves, but the figure who is most public.
Today, whether good or bad, we remember our presidents who voluntarily served this country. We pause to reflect on the good they’ve done (however little that may be). If you can, take a moment to remember your spiritual leaders and teachers today too. Take a moment to send a text or a card to thank them for their service in the Kingdom. Our teachers, preachers, and elders are imperfect people who genuinely care for the souls of the flock. They want to better the Kingdom of God and are trying their best, knowing they will endure a stricter judgment from not only God, but God’s people too. Sure, just like our politicians, some Kingdom leaders may be self-centered and corrupt. However, the majority have a passion to serve God and His people. They have made it their life-long goal to save souls and widen the borders of God’s Kingdom. I thankful for all those who serve God. I’m eternally thankful for imperfect men who volunteer to endure the stricter judgment. I’m thankful for these men because without them…I would be lost…and so might you.