After 21 years, I am finishing as the South Pacific Division CFO. It’s been a privilege to serve and I am encouraged as I look at the way the Church has been blessed.
During my tenure, I have worked alongside skilled and committed Church leaders in many countries. They take on heavy responsibilities and work long hours beyond most people’s standard working week, motivated by mission, not money.
The committee system allows decisions to be reached, respectfully resolving different perspectives and competing priorities under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Leaders become the public face of committee decisions and the target of those that want to criticise. Criticising church leaders is something that has existed from Bible times until today. Criticism is not accountability.
In society, the impact of public criticism fuelled by social media is affecting the mental health of celebrities, politicians and sportsman. In extreme cases it has led to suicide. To survive and be successful, some are saying that they quit social media and stop listening.
I have observed during my term as CFO an increase in the ferocity of criticism towards Church leaders by small groups of members. It has shifted from a few people grumbling together to orchestrated national or global social media campaigns. Those members are being influenced negatively by a society that criticises public figures without restraint and expose themselves to potential defamation lawsuits. From the security of their keyboard, some members are desensitised to the pain inflicted as the leader grapples with what “turn the other cheek” means. Members forget that leaders have feelings and families that love them. Inappropriate public criticism hurts and discourages a leader, their spouse, parents and children.
My concern for the future of our Church is not about a lack of resources—God will provide. I am concerned at the way some members are damaging leaders and taking away their courage to lead, which hurts the Church. My prayer for the future is that we value and encourage our leaders. As time draws to an end, we need to pull together and at the second coming be united as one singing praises to God.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35, NIV).