Pastor, Somebody Hates You...And Your Family Too!

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Twenty-three years ago when I was installed as the 9th Lead Pastor of the historic Church of the Open Door, the keynote speaker was Dr. John Walvoord, longtime president of Dallas Theological Seminary. What a privilege to literally hang out with this giant of the faith for a few days. Taking advantage of our first few minutes alone over lunch I asked him, “Dr. Walvoord, what’s the number one piece of advice you would offer to a new pastor like me taking on a huge assignment?”

He didn’t hesitate. He leaned across the table, looked me in the eye, and said somberly, “Never forget that Satan hates you, and your family too. He’s going to attack you head on and if he can’t get to you, he’ll go after your family.”

Stunned, I stopped buttering my bread, put down my knife, and stared out the window.

Surely he’s overstating this, I thought. But two decades later, when I consider what the Scriptures teach, Judy and mine’s personal journey, and the experiences of hundreds of pastors, missionaries, and church leaders I’ve known or mentored over the years, I know that Dr. Walvoord was right on.

For all of the books and articles on church leadership, new fads in church planting, and consultants aplenty, only a few factor in the reality of spiritual warfare. What’s the danger in this?

Often sincere pastors, missionaries, or Christian leaders will go weeks, months, even years in a desperate struggle with disunity, personal attacks, assaults from the culture, or family crises never considering the question: Could this be the enemy resisting the Good News?

The battle is real.

In his classic statement on spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12-20), Paul tells us that there is a conflict going on that we cannot see with our eyes. Spiritual warfare is a battle between invisible, angelic forces that affect you and me. Behind much of the confusion and uncertainty that exist in churches today lie the craft and power of the great spiritual being Jesus called, “the ruler of this wold,” the devil. Whether we realize it or not, we are at war against the forces of evil and the battles are being lived out in our daily lives and the lives of those we love—especially those of those who lead followers of Christ.

Even now, Satan and his worldwide legions are tightening his hold on this world and implementing his wicked strategies in an all-out surge of power. And you and I, Christian leader, are caught in the crossfire!

Christian leaders need to know what the Bible teaches about Satan, his angels and his ways. If we want to defeat the devil and his army we must remember to fight on a spiritual level. 

But first, our battle cry: No human being can stand against Satan or defeat a demon. Correspondingly and wondrously, no fallen angel including Satan can stand against Christ or defeat a Christian…who fights in the power of Christ’s might. You and I can thwart Satan’s evil schemes by tapping into the resources of our undefeatable Lord. Or as King David put it in 1 Samuel 17:47, the battle is the Lord’s.

Bringing the reality of spiritual warfare into everyday life.

In the almost forty years Judy and I have served as pastor and wife we’ve often found ourselves fighting our battles as if the devil did not exist. Only after exhausting our human resources with little success did the ferocity of the attack jar us back to the daunting truth that the devil is real. And he hates those of use who serve God’s people in Jesus’ name.

Question: Have you underestimated the ferocity of Satan’s attack on your church, your staff, and your family?