For the last few weeks I have been working on a series of writings focused on motivating people to serve more in their local church and community. I know when I personally dedicate myself to service, I am more able to be like Christ. This portion of what I have wrote, focuses on misconceptions we have about leaders in our churches. Too often we think to ourselves that we will never be as good as them, so why should we bother. I chose the picture about because we often believe that we need to be big Bible to be of any use of God. The truth is, He takes us just as we are.
Too often we believe that ministry can only be taken care by a small number of professionals inside the church. We believe that only the brightest and the best can serve in any capacity. We make excuses for why we don’t serve, and sometimes our preconceptions about pastors and church leaders hold us back from out full potential. My goal is to show how when we dispel the misconceptions, it opens us up to our full potential.
1) Pastors are paid professions who are accountable to the church like CEO’s are accountable to stock holders.
How many times have you seen your pastor treated like this? They are seen as a paid employee here to do the bidding of the church members. If they don’t like what they are doing; they move to get them replaced.
I remember when I was serving at a small Baptist church in Kentucky, and the church was in the process of finding a new pastor. We were a small church, and we only had about 25 people in worship on average. We had a big building and big dreams. The church had a sizeable amount of money from the sale of property that was extremely valuable (I am talking Five Million Dollars), and at the time a thriving child development center.
They decided that wanted a full time pastor to work for them full time with the goal of growing the church. A local church leader was advising them at the time said they should not do this. He said due to the size of the congregation, they should start with someone part time. The church was located near one of the largest Baptist seminaries in the country, and he felt they could easily find someone qualified there. They disagreed, and hired someone full time.
In the end, it did not would out according to plan. The salary the church agreed to pay him was dependent upon the success of the daycare, and this was right around the time the economy started to struggle. Many of the families lost their jobs, and pulled their children out of the daycare with revenue falling with them. The church never grew as planned because the there was too many different visions within the church.
God did not intend for His church to be ran like a corporation. He laid out how He wanted His church look throughout the New Testament. He wanted called leaders to lead His people into ministry for His kingdom. He did not wanted His chosen leaders to be treated like CEO’s, but like called men of God who are leading His people through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
2) We think we cannot do the work of ministry because we are not trained.
Your typical pastor has multiple degrees and has spent years preparing of the work he is doing today. We think that since we do not have all of this experience and knowledge, then we feel like we cannot do God’s work. Look at the 12 disciples. Many of those men were either fishermen, tax collectors, or extreme religious zealots. Jesus called them out, and they because some of the most influential people who have lived to this day.
I became a teacher in 2012. I entered the professions through a lateral entry program which means, no degree or training in education. The program I entered in trained for two months, and then I entered the classroom with my first class of 18 students. I was surrounded by new teachers with Masters Degrees in education, and others who had been in the profession for almost a decade. I can be intimidating being a room of people who obviously know more about what is going on than you do.
At first I was intimated in meetings. Then at the later part of the year, I signed up to do afterschool tutoring and was paired with a veteran teacher, who had seen a lot of success in the classroom. I was nervous because there was no way I was at the level she was, but in the end it was very beneficial for me. I had the unique opportunity to watch someone who was master at the profession, and I was allowed to learn from her.
The purpose of having trained leaders is for the rest of us to learn from them. God appoints people over us to guide us on our walk of faith. Hebrews 13:7 (ESV) says: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” We cannot use the lack of a degree as an excuse, but use our lack of knowledge as an opportunity to learn under those whom God has put over us. Even though I have a Masters of Divinity, I still get something from God’s Word when I read it, and when I am in church on Sunday’s. I never walk away with nothing. God wants use to learn from those whom has appointed over us.
3) Some pastors have the halo effect: intentionally and unintentionally.
Have you ever looked up at your pastor and said:
“What a great guy.”
“I look at him, and see a man after God’s own heart.”
“He always does the right thing.”
Often the only time we ever hear from our pastor is during the Sunday morning sermon. This is typically your pastor at his best moment. When we see them on the pulpit, it’s like we are seeing the highlight reel of a pro athlete. Most highlight reels do not show the low moments of a players career, but shows them at their best.
Many pastors unintentionally give themselves the halo effect. They want us to be at our best, and they want to give us an example of what our best should like. I appreciate it when my pastor shares personal moments of spiritual success because it shows me how possible it is me to live a life pleasing to God. At the same time, he shares with us mistakes that he has made, and shows us the life lessons he has learned from the proving to me that you can grow closer to God when we make mistakes.
At the same time there are many leaders in ministry that too often portray themselves as the best person God has to offer. They are quick to condemn others for their mistakes, and show how they are better than them. Some place a halo around them in order for us to see how great they are, but the truth is, they are merely hiding their true selves behind the mask called the pulpit.
Pastors and church leaders are human beings. They make mistakes in some areas and others they do not struggle with at all. Just like everyone else, there are areas they are successful in, and others they struggle with. I personally, prefer men of God who are real about who they are in Christ.
There are more than the three misconceptions I mention, and I am sure you can think of several more. I tried to hit the basic ones, and get us thinking about how we can rise above them. Often these misconceptions are excuses. They put these barriers and excuses before us in order to keep us away from following God. Church leaders are God’s appointed people to help us realize our full spiritual potential. While everyone doesn’t have a Masters of Divinity, it does not mean we are helpless from learning from God’s Word. We need to stop looking at our pastors the same way we would look at Jesus. They are not perfect, and we can learn from their imperfections.
Posts that are part of this series: