Summary: An exhortation to pastors.
Who Died and Left You, Lord?
A meeting that I had in the doctor’s office while I was receiving my vitamin I.V. inspired tonight’s message. There are a lot of folks that come into his office that are open about their faith. A lady receiving her first ever I.V. was sitting across from me. I found out after she left that she had been very nervous about it, but my keeping her engaged in conversation made her forget about it until it was time to remove it and then it did not seem so bad. Sometimes being a ratchet jaw is a good thing. C];-)}|>
She shared with me that she and another couple had been hurt in the church she had recently attended. It seems that the pastor and his wife seem to love to have the preeminence in the church and put people down all the time. You cannot leave town unless the pastor condones it neither can you buy a car unless he approves it. She related some other things that even if exaggerated prove that pastor is way out of line and has no concept of pastoral love and the limits of the authority of his office. It appears that he was called to primp, and prance and not pastor.
A pastor friend of mine shared with me that there is a "church" in the area where the pastor claims the first night right of English kings when a woman marries. This is absolutely ludicrous and it is obvious that the group is a cult. Why people submit to that kind of nonsense has always amazed me. Man, change the rug color in a Baptist church and people will leave. The good side of that is that they may not ever drink Kool-AidÓ in a South American country. I worry about the folks in the two groups that I just described.
We do have some folks like that among Baptists. I had a deacon once tell me that "If the preacher tells me that white wall is black, I’ll believe him." I asked him what his favorite flavor of Kool-AidÓ was and if he had his plane ticket. The pastor of that church loved him. That pastor had little spies that would sneak up on you while you were talking to someone to see if you were speaking ugly of the pastor. He also loved to preach "Touch not God’s anointed" or "Don’t go up against God’s man" sermons. Eventually, the congregation matured and he was gone, but many folks were hurt and that church’s witness and ministry was hindered for many years after.
I learned a lot of what not to do at that church. In my soon to be twenty-five years of new life in Christ, I have seen a lot of the "what not to do" things in pastors. Don’t get me wrong. I have made my own mistakes, for sure. Fortunately, by running into some of these lads kept me from making the same mistakes that they made.
Of course, congregations can breed some of these guys. There are two prominent trains of thought in congregations about pastors. The one that makes the little dictators is that the pastor can do no wrong philosophy. He is placed up on a pedestal so high that he needs an air tank to breathe. Consequently, when you are that far up you cannot help but to see your congregation as such small little creatures who cannot possibly survive without your unique and endless wisdom.
The other is what I call the BountyÓ dishtowel philosophy. The pastor is the lad you bring in to clean up whatever real or perceived mess. If he is successful, and sucks up all the junk and becomes burned out in the process, you just wad him up and chunk him in the trash can as you tear off a new one. Inmost cases, the mess is so big that he ends up torn and dirty in the can still leaving a mess for his successor or should I say the next victim?
These views tend to have an equal share of the churches. Forty-nine percent hold the first and forty-nine percent hold the second view. Only two-percent seem to hold the biblical and balanced view. In these churches, the pastor is neither elevated nor abused. He is seen as what he really is, a brother with a calling and the pastoral gifts. His authority is in his office and not in the man. That authority is only enough to provide some order in the church that it may effectively fulfill its mission. He is the first line supervisor or the team leader if you please, but he is not Lord or Lackey.
1 Tim 5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; KJV