Joel Sarli was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the second editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.

I t was 10:30 in the morning when the telephone rang. It was a call from a local church elder. He wanted some help. He was having disagreement with his pastor in some issues related to the life of the congregation. He began by saying: "I like my pastor, but," and he made some observations about the work and ministry of his pastor: "I like my pastor, but he lacks tact in dealing with discipline issues; "I like my pastor but he does not have a glowing personality; I like my pastor but he does not visit enough; I like my pastor but his speaking voice is sort of monotonous." On and on he went. I was just listening. Hardly had I had the chance to say a word to my brother. He wanted to be listened to and I had been a good listener.

Using this event as a starting point I would like to say something about that to my dear elders. The "buts" are numerous and varied when speaking of pastors and their work. When was the last time that you made such remarks concerning your pastor? As true as the statement may be, nevertheless it should not be said. No good can come from such remarks. Remember, even though he is in the ministry, your pastor is a human being and subject to all the temptations and shortcomings to which you are possibly even more.

"Yes" you say, "but his shortcomings are hindering the work in our church; souls are no longer being saved; Christians are leaving and going elsewhere to church." This might very well be true, but your pastor needs something more than your discussion of his faults with others.

The need of every minister of Christ, whether missionary, evangelist, teacher, or pastor, is deeper than mere shortcomings which are obvious on the exterior. All have a deep need of the heart which, when met, will cause his few faults to fade into insignificance. This need is the fullness of the Holy Spirit in his life and ministry. 

After a service one night, two women who had been attending approached Dwight L. Moody. He was shocked, and somewhat irritated, when the women told him they were going to pray that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit. At the time he was attracting fairly large crowds, with a few souls being saved. Before long, however, Mr. Moody, too, realized the need of the fullness of God, the Holy Spirit, in his ministry. He began to pray with these women for this fullness. Two years later-according to his testimony-Moody, while walking down a street in New York City, received the answer to this prayer. From that time forward the ministry of this man of God was phenomenal. He preached the same sermons, in the same way, at the same places, but great things began to happen. Thousands were brought under conviction of sin and looked to Jesus for the solution. Other thousands were strengthened in their faith and emboldened in witnessing.

If you would help your pastor and your church, begin to pray earnestly for the fullness and the power of God's Spirit in them. Much more will be accomplished by such a prayer than all the talking you and your fellow church members can do. Believe that God wants to bless the work and pray accordingly. The Bible declares that "God ... is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6).

I am fully aware that all Christians do not agree regarding the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the child of God, but one thing upon which we do agree is that we need the Holy Spirit with all His power to operate in and through us if we are to bear eternal fruits. This your pastor needs. Likewise your church, and each working member of your church. Yes, you also need this experience.

Rather than discuss among yourselves the faults of your pastor, begin today to petition God that the Holy Spirit might come in power into your midst. The command from the Bible is: "Be not drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18). And the promise follows: "Your heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him" (Luke 11:13).

Joel Sarli was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the second editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.