Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:19 – “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” The office of an elder (pastor) is one that must be respected. God has called that person to that office and anyone who has an accusation against that man must be extremely careful in how that accusation is carried out. The Devil uses false accusations to harm pastors and their ministries, therefore, when a pastor is confronted with a sin it must be handled very carefully.
BEWARE: The one who accuses the pastor must do so in the proper manner. Paul said that accusations are to be made against a pastor in his presence with two or three witnesses. This is to be done in order to provide accountability and protection for the pastor in such accusations. This allows for the accusation to be heard, investigated, and substantiated before it goes before the entire church.
This statement by Paul completely outlaws accusations that are made privately in the form of gossip, text messages, e-mails, anonymous blogs, or over the phone behind the pastor’s back. Those types of accusations are nothing more than slanderous attacks against the office of elder (pastor) and God takes that type of thing very seriously. That is why Paul speaks of this in 1 Timothy 5:19.
John MacArthur writes:
There are always people eager to falsely accuse a man of God. They may do so because they resent his calling, reject his teaching, resist biblical authority, resent virtue, or are jealous of the Lord’s blessing on his life. Ultimately, however, they demonstrate by making such accusations that they have become messengers of Satan. Such false accusations are one of his most dangerous weapons. Joseph, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, and our Lord Jesus Christ all suffered from false accusations (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 1 Timothy, 221).
Hebrews 13:17 says, ” Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” It is an unprofitable thing to reject and undermine the leadership of your pastor according to the writer to the Hebrews. Anyone who seeks to gossip against or attack their pastor behind his back should be viewed as one who is in clear violation of God’s Word and a tool of Satan.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 says, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” Again, we see that the pastor should be esteemed (respected) highly in love because of the work he is called to do. What work? The work of laboring in Word and doctrine and shepherding the flock of God.
BEWARE: The one who accepts accusations against their pastor must do so in the proper manner. According to 1 Timothy 5:19 – the elder (pastor) is to be accused before two or three witnesses – not in a private conversation behind his back. Therefore, any member of the church or leader in the church who accepts an accusation against their pastor in a private setting without hearing it before the pastor himself is guilty of sin. Why did God put these things in Paul’s heart as he wrote 1 Timothy? As Paul was writing to his young preacher named Timothy – he wanted to inform him of how pastors are to be accused of wrongdoing. Paul understood that the wolves would come out in opposition and attack the pastor who truly labors in the Word. So, he placed some guidelines for how a pastor is to be accused in order to prevent false gossip, the rumor mill, and wolves who have a thirst for blood from bringing an attack against their pastor that could destroy his ministry.
Therefore, it goes without saying, that if a pastor has sinned or done wrong, he should be confronted. This confrontation should be done in the proper manner. If the pastor does not repent, the accusation should be presented before the church in order to further admonish him and call for him to repent. If at that point, the pastor still does not repent, the church should move through their proper steps of removing him from serving since he has a hard heart and is unwilling to repent of his sin.
To confront your pastor of sin is a very serious charge and should be taken extremely seriously. No person should be on a campaign to constantly confront their pastor of wrongdoing unless their is absolute clear evidence of sin. Those people in the church who are constantly on a slander attack against their pastor should likewise be held to the standards of discipline found in Matthew 18. If they refuse to repent, they should be excommunicated from the church in order to protect the purity of the church and the office of the pastor. This should be done with the utmost care and respect – and in both cases – it should be done with a goal of restoration.
Therefore, true believers should work together, worship together, pray for one another, help one another and have the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace that comes through Jesus Christ. The church should always watch and beware of attacks against their pastor and against one another because the wicked one is always looking to stir up confusion and harm the ministry of Christ in the community.
For His Name and For His Glory!
Pastor Josh Buice