Treatment of the Strong
Pastor Jack Hyles
In every area of our lives we need strength around us. One of the weaknesses of our society is the attempt by the masses to weaken the strong. Business needs strong management and labor will be wise to keep it so. Many a business has gone under because labor weakened management, thereby killing the goose that laid the golden egg.
The same thing is true concerning politics. We need a strong President, and the opposing political party is very unwise in its attempt to weaken the power of the presidency and of the President. He needs our support, our prayers and our encouragement for him to be strong.
One of the sad things about the press in our nation is its constant attempt to weaken leadership with its constant desire to sell papers and magazines. It continues to explore and seek the weaknesses of the strong in an effort for the spectacular to be printed. In so doing, we are lessening our own security by weakening the ones who offer it to us.
In professional sports we are seeing the same thing. The athlete gets rich at the expense of the owners, not realizing that to weaken the ownership may someday cost him his job and destroy the sport by which he makes his livelihood.
America needs strength! Wise is that nation that strengthens the hands of its leadership, which in turn can offer security and protection to followship.
Thank God for strong people! However, even in our churches they often tend to be disliked. We love to pull for the underdog, and there is something in us that wants to see the strong toppled, but we need the strong, and when they fall they fall on us and rob us of a security that we need from strength.
Our nation is in desperate need of some heroes. Baseball needs a Babe Ruth, a Dizzy Dean, a Ted Williams and a Joe DiMaggio. Football needs a Red Grange and Bronko Nagurski. Boxing needs a Jack Dempsey and a Joe Louis. Golf needs an Arnold Palmer, a Ben Hogan and a Bob Jones. Politics needs a Theodore Roosevelt and a George Washington. The military needs a Douglas MacArthur, a General George Patton. The pulpit needs a Dwight Moody, a Billy Sunday and a Charles Spurgeon. Law enforcement needs a J. Edgar Hoover. Coaching needs a Vince Lombardi or a George Halas. This is not the day for the hero or the legend. We seem to want to pull them down to our level. We want to homogenize everybody, and we even attack the principles of the dead in order to destroy yesterday's heroes while we destroy today's We flounder for lack of leadership and at the same time attempt to make leadership flounder.
We should encourage strong people. They are the most lonely people in the church. They are the most criticized people in the church, and they need our love, respect and confidence in order to compensate for those who are trying to shoot them down.
In doing this we must be careful to understand that strength has weakness, and we must not be disenchanted with our heroes when we discover that they too are made of flesh.
I have known personally and intimately the greatest preachers of this and the last generation. I was a warm personal friend to Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. I knew in a very personal way Dr. R. G. Lee and was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral. For 22 years I traveled with Dr. John R. Rice, and perhaps I knew him better than anybody on earth except for his own family. I preached his funeral message. I was a close friend of Dr. Bill Rice, and for over a third of a century I was a good friend with Evangelist Lester Roloff. I spoke at the funeral service for Dr. Bill Rice and also preached Dr. Roloff's funeral message. Dr. Ford Porter was my good friend, and I preached his funeral message. Then, of course, I shared the same platform with such men as Jacob Gartenhaus, B. R. Lakin, G. B. Vick and others. They were all great men, and they were all my heroes, but I was well aware that each was human and possessed weaknesses. Some of them fought each other, thereby revealing to me their humanity, but in no way taking from me my estimation of their greatness.
We must thank God for the strong. We must realize their humanity, but we must not let that realization shake our confidence in them. They are great men, not perfect men. They are strong men, but not omnipotent men. They are wise men, but not omniscient men. We need men of their caliber as our leaders.
Paul was a great man and Peter was a great man; yet they had personal problems between themselves. Galatians 2:11, "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed."
Barnabas was a great man and Paul was a great man, but they were human as is manifested in Acts 15:36-40, "And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the Word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God." They had a sharp disagreement.
John Wesley and George Whitefield had problems getting along together. The same is true with Calvin and Luther, Harry Truman and Douglas MacArthur and many other great men. Though we should not deify them and should accept them as human, we still need to exalt them, to pray for them, to honor them and to strengthen them in order that they in turn as our leaders may give us strength and direction.
In every church there are strong men--men with leadership ability--men whom the church needs. Such men should be respected, prayed for, honored and followed. They should not be open game for criticism and gossip! Because of their strength they may not be as likable as others in the church. Because of their strong wills, their manner may not be as palatable as that of more gentle people, but we need them and should hold them up before the Lord and encourage them.
Every church has some ladies who are more zealous than others. Their manner may not be as gentle and as appealing because they are leaders of the ladies and girls. They are needed. Such ladies lead departments in the Sunday school, direct children's choirs, build ladies' Sunday school classes, work as supervisors in college dormitories, teach in the Christian school and perform multitudes of other important tasks in the work of God. Because of their leadership abilities as they lead other women and children, they are often the object of criticism, especially by men, and especially by men who are not strong leaders and have become jealous of the leadership ability of the ladies who are leaders. Don't misunderstand me; I am not advocating that ladies lead men. The Bible is very plain about that, but let us thank God for those ladies who are strong and who can administrate in areas where men would not and could not lead. May God's people look at the strong and thank God for them.
We are all flesh, and the best of us is weak, but God has ordained that every human organization have leadership. A city needs a mayor. A state needs a governor. A nation needs a king or a president or a prime minister. A team needs a coach. A school needs a principal. A church needs a pastor. A business needs an executive. A college needs a president. A classroom needs a teacher. A dormitory needs a supervisor. Now we must choose the strong from among us to fill these positions. When chosen they should be admired, loved and honored. When the team weakens the coach, games are lost. When the student weakens the teacher, he weakens his education. When the country weakens the president, it weakens its national security. When a church weakens a pastor, it loses its power. When a state or a city weakens its governor or mayor, it promotes anarchy and confusion.
Let us not fall for Satan's method of luring the follower into criticism and jealousy of the leader. We do not strengthen ourselves when we weaken the strong; we rather weaken ourselves when we weaken the strong, for God has given us the strong to strengthen us. Anarchy not only weakens the nation, but it weakens the people of that nation, and those who are guilty of anarchy are weaker than they would have been had they been submissive. A submissive people is a strong people. A submissive team is a strong team. A submissive student body forms a good school. A submissive membership makes a great church. Any other plan is one that is derived from Satan himself when, as an archangel, he rebelled against God and sought to exalt himself above God and set himself on God's throne. In so doing, he hurt himself! He certainly did not hurt God! God was still God after Satan's rebellion, but Satan was no longer an archangel, and his angels were no longer God's angels. He and his angels fell! Followers always fall when they topple their leaders!
At this point in American history a tragic thing is happening. Liberal politicians seem to have more animosity toward Mr. Reagan than they do toward Mr. Gorbachev. They spend more time attacking American conservatism than they do attacking Russian communism, and an excessive hatred of communism seems to be a greater crime than communism itself. The liberal politicians seem bent on joining the liberal press for the destruction of any conservative leader who is strong. Then that conservative leader represents our nation at summit meetings. His hands are tied. His power is limited. His plans are paralyzed, and the weak leader that we have created goes to represent us. By the time he is at the treaty table, he has been made so powerless by his own fellow Americans that his position is weakened--not because of the attack of the enemy but because of the attack from our own citizens!
The same is true in a church. Parents often feel that there is some merit in criticizing the pastor. Perhaps it gives them some sense of power if they can speak ill of a strong leader. Their children hear this ill speaking and lose confidence in the pastor. Then the day comes when the child needs the pastor and only the pastor can help, but by that time the child has lost confidence in his preacher! The parents have weakened the leader so that the leader cannot help their own flesh and blood.
Not only are we trying to weaken leadership and in so doing weaken ourselves, but we are trying to destroy people who have been gone from the scene for years. Not only do we want to tear down today's heroes; we want to destroy yesterday's heroes. Not only does the liberal press, the liberal politician and the liberal educator seek to homogenize all of us today and seek to bring down any strong leader, but they unite in attacking the memory of our past heroes, so they investigate in order to find everything negative possible about J. Edgar Hoover, George Washington, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Babe Ruth and others.
America's youth today are looking for heroes. Let us help them find some. Let us close ranks and thank God for those who are strong and pray for God to give us other strong people whom we may follow, encourage and strengthen!
Someone has said that preaching is pouring back to the congregation in a flood what is received from them in a vapor. Some few, thank God, can capture this vapor, translate it into a flood and return it to the audience. Leadership is the same way. Let us constantly send them the vapor so that they may return to us a flood!
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