One of the saddest things to watch in a church is when the churgoers turn against the preacher/teacher who led them to the Lord and taught them about Jesus. This happens a lot. Some of the same believers who follow faithfully the godly teaching of good men while they are baby Christians, will later turn against these mentors when they feel more established and secure in their faith. I believe that this is caused by pride. They want to prove their spiritual growth by moving on and surpassing their first teachers, but often they only prove their lack of spiritual growth by doing this.
Almost every preacher of God’s word has experienced this kind of betrayal by those they have discipled at some time or another. Even the best, godliest, holiest preachers undergo these kinds of the attacks. The Apostle Paul himself was often criticized, even though he had seen Jesus in a vision, healed people miraculously, and preached the gospel message throughout Asia Minor and Greece. Despite this incredible resume, many people attacked his legitimacy as a preacher of God’s word, and some of his own disciples were swayed by these attacks. Paul reminds these congregants in his letter to the Corinthians, that they themselves, because they believed in Christ as a result of his preaching, are part of his resume:
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. (I Corinthians 9:1-2 NIV)
The apostle Paul here considers the Christians at Corinth to be “the seal of my apostleship in the Lord” because he could not have persuaded so many of them to leave their former paganism and worship the one true God if there was not some degree of genuineness in his ministry. Therefore, they should not be so quick to reject him as a legitimate teacher of God’s word, since they would not have even believed in God’s word if it were not for his ministry.
My warning for my readers today is this: do not be too quick to forsake or condemn those who led you to Christ and taught you God’s word when you were a Baby Christian. I am not saying that you should be blind to their faults, but do not be quick to judge them. Do not compete with them, as if to prove that you are a better minister than they. True believers are on the same team. Show them the gratitude and respect that they deserve as God’s ministers, and as guides whom God used to lead you to the light..