Responding to a question sent by an
employee of a civic organization, evangelist Billy Graham acknowledges
that while no pastor is perfect, it's "wrong, and a sin in the eyes of
God" for Christians to criticize their pastors.
"Why do some
people seem to enjoy criticizing their pastor?" reads the question sent
to the 96-year-old evangelist, according to the website of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, now headed by his son, the Rev. Franklin Graham.
"I'm in a civic organization with a
couple of friends from another church, and it seems like all they talk
about is their pastor's shortcomings. Should I say something to them
about this?" adds the question.
"No pastor is perfect, of course —
but if God has called someone to be a pastor and has sent them to serve
a particular church, then they should be helped and encouraged in every
way possible," Billy Graham responds, quoting 1 Samuel 26:9: "Who can
lay a hand on the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?"
mean "pastors should always be above criticism — even if they neglect
their responsibilities or otherwise are at fault," Graham clarifies.
most churches have ways of dealing with such matters through their
ruling board or denominational structure. Paul reminded the Christians
in Corinth that 'everything should be done in a fitting and orderly
way,'" he adds, referring to 1 Corinthians 14:40.
"Sadly, I have
known of church members who seem to enjoy criticizing their pastor — and
sometimes they keep doing it pastor after pastor," Graham goes on to
say. "I've never known why; perhaps they do it to just to get attention.
But whatever their reason, it is wrong, and it is a sin in the eyes of
God. Not only does it cause dissension in the church, but it means their
heart and mind are closed to the teaching of God's Word."
concludes by suggesting the inquirer pray for an opportunity to speak
with her or his friends about their attitude, "urging them not only to
avoid criticizing their pastor but to do all they can to support and
help this individual."
"Especially encourage them to pray for
their pastor. Pray, too, for your own church and its pastoral staff,
that they truly may 'Be shepherds of God's flock … eager to serve' (1
Billy Graham was hospitalized after his 95th birthday
celebration for observation and lung tests in November 2013, and has
been very weak since then. However, his mind is still clear, his son,
Franklin Graham, said earlier this year.