Giving Badges to Guys With a Bushy Mustache

    For a man will take hold of his brother
in the house of his father, saying:
“You have a cloak;
you shall be our leader,
and this heap of ruins
shall be under your rule”;
in that day he will speak out, saying:
“I will not be a healer;
in my house there is neither bread nor cloak;
you shall not make me
leader of the people.”
(Isaiah 3:6-7 ESV)

In other words leadership is so scarce in the land that if a guy even looks like he could pose as a leader he is called for the job.  That’s like giving some dude a badge, a gun, and a nightstick just because he has a bushy mustache.  Paper leaders are often a sign of God’s judgment.  Specifically judgment for trusting in indispensable leaders instead of the God that creates these leaders.

I sure am glad that we live in the New Testament era and we would never struggle with something similar.  You probably picked up on my sarcasm there didn’t you?  If you did, it is because you have been in a church that has crowned a guy youth pastor just because he seems to relate to students and has a couple Bible verses memorized.  Or you have witnessed the church call a man to be a deacon (or elder) simply because he is vocal at a few business meetings.

Within many churches, service and leadership is so scarce that if someone even shows a faint resemblance of a leader they are immediately propelled into a position of authority.  Often, even foundational offices are selected more by what sucker will volunteer than any semblance of calling.

Pastoral Idolatry and Discipleship

Is it possible that just as in the days of Isaiah God is displeased with our churches?  Specifically, that he is displeased with our leadership idolatry and so he has stripped us of leaders.  And perhaps He has done so in His grace, knowing that if we had a church filled with solid leaders that we would trust in their wisdom instead of trusting in the Lord Himself.

Is it possible that one of the reasons why churches look eerily similar to Isaiah 3:6-7 is because we have placed idolatrous trust in a CEO model of pastoral leadership?  Is it possible that we’ve somehow convinced ourselves that the church has two heads.  One of course, being our head nod to the Lord Jesus and then secondly our real leader the CEO pastor?  I think Paul Tripp is right, “if Christ is the head of his body, then everything else is just body, including the pastor…”

Maybe our lack of leaders is a direct result of the unbiblical pedestal that we have placed pastors upon.  Maybe pastors become spent on being CEO of an organization and are never afforded the time or energy to actually do the work of pastoring and equipping saints for the work of ministry.  Yet, we know that we have to have somebody in these positions.  We rightly tell ourselves that the pastor and his staff cannot do everything.  So, we look around and find a few people that carry their Bible and make them Sunday school teachers.  Yet, we continue to have our pastor as CEO and give him only a scant amount of time to actually be about the work of ministry.

When your pastor is predominately a fireman don’t be surprised if people are not being discipled.  At its most basic form discipling someone is teaching them to obey Jesus while you obey Jesus with your life in front of them.  When the pastor is only putting out fires what do you think his “disciples” will be learning?  They certainly will not be learning how to go disciple someone else or how to become a fisher of men.  They’ll learn how to serve church problems.  Not how to draw deeply from the well of Jesus.

Let’s not make our pastors so indispensable that they become idols.  It’s dangerous for them and for us.*

*As an associate pastor I’m part of the the “them” and the “us” in that sentence.

Comments

  1. Frank L. says

    Mike,

    The creepy picture aside, I like your post. Especially this line:

    “”we continue to have our pastor as CEO and give him only a scant amount of time to actually be about the work of ministry.””

    I have a little office (not my plush CEO one) upstairs. It is really not much more than a closet. I go there to pray. I’m out of the stream of ministry and I can turn on the music and cry out to God all I want. It is hard getting time to go to my little closet. People expect me to be in the CEO office.

    So, I get what you are saying. This is actually counter-productive to ministry. Acts 6 tells us we should: 1) pray 2) be in the Word.

    Now, I have a bit a different take on your point about volunteers–though I think you probably believe more or less the same thing. We cannot always find the “perfect person for the position.” I think it is better to “grab someone” and pray them into success. That does not always work as you point out.

    Arthur Flake tells us exactly how to do what you are talking about in this post: 3) Enlist and Train Workers. This should be a primary task of the pastor (or elders, deacons). The key is not just to “enlist” (which will bring the situation you discuss) but to “train,” which I think will be the antidote for the issue, and issues, you bring up in your post.

  2. says

    Frank,

    Training and discipling is indeed the antidote to a host of problems in the church. However, the demanding and democratic share-holders who want their money’s worth from their co-op… I mean church often don’t give a pastor the time, much less give God the time, for training or discipleship to work.

    I think the majority wants a Billy Graham conference experience with each worship service and each Sunday school class thinking the whole time: this is all there is and I am content. But when they are recruited (not drafted because they can say no) they are torn between “I can’t” and “but I’ll miss hearing….”

    The vocal minority all too often volunteer but because of that small courage, they feel better/superior to the masses and are also often difficult to disciple. The first group thinking “I can’t do it” and the second thinking “I don’t need to do it, I’m already there.” The people in this group often have their own vision or agenda for the church and find themselves in disagreement (major or minor) with their leaders.

    Part of the CEO trap is the sense of entitlement by the members that:
    – my vote counts
    – where is my money going
    – lets table that motion (until I can get more votes for my side)
    All of which feed the idea that the pastor is accountable to the church for the success of this or that program or ministry effort as if by his very word, he can make things happen.