Every pastor will eventually have to face enemies within the church, people who are dedicated to damage and even destroy them. As these enemies have a range of motives and methods, and can be deadly if not recognized early, here’s a selection of the kinds of enemies that can be found in many churches (some belong to more than one category – some belong to all!)
Open Enemies: They are in-your-face, out-and-out, no-holds-barred, to-the-death enemies.
Secret Enemies: They undermine you and oppose you behind your back, in secret, in private conversations.
Procedural Enemies: They use ecclesiastical rules and procedure to tie you in knots, to obstruct you, to stymie proposals, to humiliate you in front of others.
Voting Enemies: They reserve their opposition for church courts and congregational meetings. No matter what you propose, they are against it. You could propose that “This Church believes in breathing” and you know you’ll have one vote in the “No” column.
Wounded Enemies: You crossed swords with them a few years ago, maybe a doctrinal argument or the discipline of a family member. Those wounds have never healed and now they are just waiting for the right time to exact vengeance.
Financial Enemies: There will almost always be somebody who thinks the pastor is earning too much or spending too much. Although these enemies are often some of the wealthier members, they love to cut the pastor’s salary or benefits.
Doctrinal Enemies: They oppose what you teach and use every opportunity to attack it and to spread the opposite message.
Liturgical Enemies: They like your doctrine but oppose the content or style of worship. They aren’t called “worship wars” for nothing.
Prove-me-right Enemies: They voted to call another pastor but lost. Now they’re just longing for you to fail so that they can be proven right.
Deserved Enemies: You wronged someone, you humiliated someone, you broke a promise to someone, you acted foolishly towards someone, you annoyed someone. Now they hate you. Your sin brought it upon you. You deserve to have these enemies. You earned them.
Campaigning Enemies: Not satisfied with being enemies on their own, they recruit others to their side and build an army of enmity.
Surprising Enemies: One minister told me that the couple who welcomed him and his family most at the beginning were the same ones at the vanguard of driving them out of the ministry some years later. They smothered them with love at first, then tried to smother them at the last.
Smiling Enemies: They rarely stop to talk with you, but simply flash an extra-stretch smile as they pass you. Their dagger eyes tell the true story.
I’m sure there are other enemies you can think of, but regardless of how many they are or what kind they are, we must respond in the same way – fury, retaliation, vengeance, imprecations, anathemas, fire and brimstone, waterboarding, and anything else that will cause them maximum pain for maximum time.
Eh, not quite.
“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:44-45).