It’s a little know fact that preachers can be the worst gossips and slanderers. I think this rises out of our own insecurities. We feel threatened when someone else pastors a church that is bigger, or growing faster, or seems to be more blessed than ours.
So I have to start this post by confessing I have said unkind things about Perry Noble in the past. Most of the time, I was jumping on a bandwagon when other pastors were being critical, and I didn’t want to be left out. That doesn’t make it right. It was sin every time I did it. It hurt the cause of Christ, and the work of the Kingdom.
About a year ago, God convicted me of my behavior. I had forgotten to follow Jesus. I had forgotten the story in Luke 9, when Jesus said, “Whoever is not against me is for me.” Perry and I are on the same team. My jealousy, not his conduct, caused my sin. I asked for forgiveness, and I stopped my snipping.
When the news broke over the weekend about Perry leaving New Spring because he had messed up, my heart did not leap. My heart was broken. My brother in Christ, my co-laborer (who I have never met), had stumbled like we all do.
I can’t imagine the pressures Perry dealt with. To preach to such a large congregation, to break new ground, and to have a big hairy audacious vision meant he was a convenient target. Imagine not being able to go anywhere without being recognized. Imagine everyone having an opinion about you before they ever meet you. Imagine the responsibility of leading such a large organization.
Obviously Perry didn’t handle it all well. I get that. I deal with pressure on a smaller scale and I don’t handle all that well sometimes.
Here are the things I hope we will all do:
- Pray for Perry. He has done a good work for God. Pray for God to give him strength and for God to bathe him in love and grace.
- Pray for Perry’s family, for his wife and daughter. Their pain is unique; pray for God to be good and gracious to them.
- Pray for healing in this family.
- Pray for the work of New Spring, that people will continue to come to know Jesus and follow him. Pray for clarity for any who confused Jesus and Perry (hey, it happens).
- Pray for your pastor. If that’s me, please pray for me. I don’t deal with pressure the way I should. Pray that I will be healthy and stay rooted in Jesus. Pray for pastors you know. This is not easy work. Maybe we don’t talk about how hard it is because we don’t want to sound like whiners, but leading Jesus’ flock can suck your soul dry. Pray for pastors to be refreshed by the Spirit.
- Pray for you to be filled with grace toward all who stumble, including yourself.