All right, I admit it. The blog post a week hasn’t been happening, but that will change, simply because some people have asked to have access to my sermon outlines so that they can fill them in while they are listening to the sermons online! So now I’ll have at least a blog post a week, but before we get to that I do have some thoughts to share…
It happened a few weeks ago. I was passing by someone in the church hallway on Sunday morning, and they called me “Pastor.” Not an uncommon occurrence, since so many people call me “Pastor Mark.” However, this time there was that note of reverence, respect, and awe that, quite simply, made me incredibly uncomfortable.
Now, I understand why this happens. Scripture tells us to “Obey your leaders and submit to them” (Hebrews 13:17), and “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17). I suppose that it’s not a bad thing that the teaching pastor of a church receive some respect! But other Scripture passages come to my mind as well. Passages like Matthew 23:8-12:
But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
There are plenty of passages that are similar to this one, but there is one that pertains to church leadership that is a sober reminder as well. 1 Peter 5:1-4 is one of my theme verses for ministry, and it states:
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
I guess that the bottom line is that, regardless of how people respond to me, I need to be humble. The apostle Paul knew how to do that. He was able to say: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Pride is the constant enemy of the Christian, especially those who serve in leadership positions. And we all have to be careful, or we’ll be chastised like the church in Laodicea: “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” (Revelation 3:16-17).