On multiple occasions, while in conversation with a senior pastor about a staff member, I’ve been told, “You don’t have to love the people you work with.” Sometimes the declaration was, “You don’t have to love the people who work for you.” These statements tend to follow a lengthy conversation concerning how the senior pastor is angry with a staff member or is at odds with a staff member after some situation played out. I wonder… Does a senior pastor have to love the staff they lead or are the staff they lead simply co-workers, underlings on the flow chart with a job to do and so, the responsibility of the senior pastor is simply to make sure these employees get their work done? With this mindset, there is no relational responsibility.
The New Testament is pretty straight up when it comes to this loving one another thing.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8
Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. 1 Peter 5:14
This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 John 3:11
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 1 John 3:23
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:12
And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 2 John 1:5
I haven’t yet found a clause in scripture giving church leaders a bye on loving another believer, even if that believer is a co-worker or is regarded as an employee.
Senior Pastor… We have no choice but to love the staff we lead. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. I do realize that there will be times when down deep you don’t like someone you work with. You’ll be disappointed in them or angry with them. This is a natural reaction, an intuitive internal response to an external situation.
While pastoring, on two occasions, I was forced to let a staff member go. I still love them both. I was a reference for one of those staff members a few years ago. The other might not even call me friend. But… I loved them then, treated them with love and respect then, and love them still today. Their performance, even their attitude, didn’t determine my love for them.
Let’s face it… Loving those we are at odds with is an internal accomplishment through the power of the Holy Spirit who is at work in us. Love is not dependent on our ability to love it is accomplished through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. I pray that, if you have a staff member that you don’t love at present, that you will allow the Holy Spirit to bring love alive in you.
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