The Lord has blessed our church with a pastor who loves our church. In the brief time that we've known him, he's demonstrated a deep concern for the congregation as a whole, as well as for individual members. He has shown touching compassion toward me and John, especially regarding John's health issues.
Our pastor also loves the Word of God, and loves it with a passion that refuses to water it down to accommodate popular evangelical trends, worldly attitudes or sinful behaviors. His preaching reveals his complete unwillingness to compromise Scripture. He really wouldn't do well in the Church Growth Movement, since he apparently disdains the marketing techniques of people like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and Jim van Yperen. In his most recent sermon, my pastor had the audacity to insist that a church shouldn't be structured around surveys or consensus, but rather should follow the Biblical pattern that Christ laid out through His apostles.
Sometimes, my pastor steps on toes when he preaches. One Sunday, after he preached a sermon that "happened" to address some sin that I'd been entertaining all week, I accused him of reading my diary. John told him once, "Your preaching makes me uncomfortable...and I want more!"
Please don't misunderstand me and accuse me of worshiping my pastor. Such idolatry really doesn't interest me. But I do want to praise God for His grace to bring me and John under the care of a pastor and board of elders who desire to obey the Lord rather than structuring a church that would appeal to any specific demographic. These men have no interest in fitting into the general culture. And this freedom from catering to popular opinion liberates them to proclaim God's Word with integrity, even when it offends people.
Love is kind, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, but it also grieves at wrongdoing and takes joy in truth. Sometimes, love needs to override sentimentality for the purpose of holding fast to Biblical convictions. In the process, feelings get hurt. Homosexuals hear that God considers their lifestyle abominable. People who base their spirituality on mysticism hear that their experiences lack validity. And rage-aholics like me will hear that Jesus likens our angry outbursts to murder. Love demands leaders (or any brother or sister in Christ) to confront our sin whether we like it or not.
I don't enjoy it when my pastor says something that forces me to see sin in my life. But praise the Lord for blessing me with a pastor and elders that desire my holiness more than my emotional comfort. They don't care if they hurt my feelings...because they love me.