By Jay Sanders
There are a few ways to keep the devil from messing with you. Some ways are obvious. Don’t buy ouija boards, don’t try to talk to dead people, and don’t play 1980s heavy metal records backward.
But there’s another completely different way you can avoid demonic oppression in your life. If you want the devil to reduce the amount of time he spends coming after you, stop serving Christ and His church.
Put another way—if you spend any time trying to advance the kingdom of Christ, you should expect spiritual attacks.
A Variety of Attacks
Of course, these attacks show up in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s in the form of temptations, and other times it’s human opposition or extreme discouragement.
One common struggle I’ve seen pastors endure recently is fear. I know pastors who’ve spent years communicating successfully with others suddenly become overcome with fear, even when it comes to giving a simple talk.
There are pastors who once enjoyed preaching but now have to prayerfully force themselves to stay on the platform until their sermon is done. Other pastors can barely leave their home or office because of irrational fears.
Understanding Our Common Enemy
Some Christians have ruled out the possibility of any demonic influence in the world. For them, the enemy is a doctrine in a book rather than an actual being bent on theft, murder, and destruction.
Others blame every mishap in their lives on demons. As they see it, yesterday’s burnt dinner was the devil’s fault.
I imagine Satan is happy with us living in either extreme. But in the middle is where we find the war.
We’re At War
Pastors are often on the front line of that war. This helps explain why the enemy attacks them the way he does.
Many of those attacks have something to do with fear. This is no new phenomenon. Paul addressed it to his young understudy a couple of thousand years ago.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Timothy 1:7).
The fear that consumes you, pastor, isn’t from God. We’re all under attack from the world, the flesh, and our enemy.
While your genetic makeup or family upbringing may have something to do with it, it’s likely a result of attacks from those three familiar foes.
Remember How We Fight
It’s important to remember here, as Tony Evans notes, we don’t fight for our victory. Christ has already secured that with His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
Rather, we fight from victory. Jesus has won the war for us. The head of the snake has been removed, but he’s still striking. He’s defeated, but he’s still dangerous.
Our fighting—rooted in the victory Christ has won for us—is to be done from a place of power, love, and self-control. The power is not our own but Christ in us (Ephesians 6:10-20).
The love is the source of our standing in Christ (Romans 5:8). And the self-control, just like the power and the love, is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
But how should these theological truths play out practically? How can they help the pastor who’s consumed with fear and thinking about retreating from the front lines?
We must remember we don’t fight on our own. At least we aren’t meant to. But when we neglect prayer, we’re doing just that.
Consuming fear should operate as the check engine light of our souls that informs us something is wrong.
But pastor, don’t just pray for yourself. Ask others to pray for you. Be honest. It’s okay not to be okay all the time.
Prayer enables us to love as God loves us. It’s what helps us have the self-control to fight against the temptation to listen to the enemy and to instead, lean on our Savior.
You’re Not Alone
Pastor, if you’re consumed with fear, you’re not alone. Countless pastors are all too familiar with your struggle.
Remember you have a victorious Savior who prays for you (Romans 8:34) and does battle on your behalf (Luke 22:32).
So fear not, pastor.
You’re not alone.
The Lord is with you.
And He has won.
JAY SANDERS (@jaysanders714) is the senior pastor of Towaliga Baptist Church in Jackson, Georgia.