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Chapter 35 - Those who lead
Because we are all born ignorant and helpless, our earliest development is in relation to those who care for us and teach us. As we mature, we come to take independent control over our own lives. This natural progression within the context of family has been hijacked by Satan into which he has inserted his own agents and systems. The school teacher as an agent for the state injects values and expectations into developing children among other things (such as the cultivation of debilitating self-indulgence, crippling insecurity outside one’s cohort, and the ego inflating view of history that man is perfecting himself) a willing compliance to designated authority.
Those who pastor churches may not be aware that many who attend their churches are crippled by their exposure to public education to be excessively dependant. While Satan needed to have an almost endless supply of compliant components for his various organizational systems, when these begin to fill churches, pastors should not rejoice with those waiting to do what he tells them.
There are many forces on a pastor to manage a church (particularly a denominational franchise brand) in a way that enhances his prominence and subordinates those who attend.
1. Denominational template. Seminary can imprint a pattern of church organization that is expected to be maintained. This also can imprint those outside the denomination particularly through the expectations of church members.
2. Ego. Being the center of attention can be quite flattering. Such attention has been deadly for rock musicians, Hollywood starlets, and politicians. It would be expected that pastors would not be immune to its corruptive influence.
3. Financial emphasis. The need for a salary and building sustain the mechanical system approach to church organization because it is a system that is fueled by money.
4. Evangelism as a Ponzi scheme. Membership recruitment can initially receive emphasis out of financial necessity, but become an end in itself as competition in the marketplace for attendees among a dwindling population is essential to replace the 80% of children lost to the world.
The pastor can use his considerable influence to direct the people in his church into compliance with those things that help him keep his machine running and even expanding. This organizational momentum can prevent a pastor from considering the biblical expectations of him.
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 1 Peter 5:1-4
Peter cites both money and ego as potential problems for church leaders. Peter also mentions that the flock should be 'fed'. This carries a particular emphasis for Peter because of what Jesus told him.
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. - John 21:15-17
The word 'pastor' (shepherd) is used once as a noun in the New Testament.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: - Ephesians 4:11-12
Grammatically the word 'pastor' is joined to the word teacher such that pastoring is understood to be accomplished by teaching. We further see this in the instruction Paul give Timothy.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, - 2 Timothy 2:24
It is important the a pastor learn that biblical 'teaching' is not the same as what he received in seminary or the sermon/lecture he gives on Sunday mornings. The word teach (didaktikos) had a less sterile classroom image when it was used in the time of Jesus. Even in the Hellenistic secular world teaching was considered to be instruction in morality and virtue. This instruction was done within the context of relationship with the teacher demonstrating what was to be learned.
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. - Philippians 3:17
For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. - 1 Corinthians 4:15-16
We can see a little of the process of teaching with regard to the admonition given to older women.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. - Titus 2:3-5
Here we see that act of pastoring (shepherding through teaching) accomplished by means of a personal relationship as well as practical instruction of 'how' as well as 'should'.
The radical Christian is one likely to be taking action to seek out instruction and grow closer to Jesus. The pastor of a church might be the first person you would turn to to follow this path. It is important to be aware of all the limitations pastors can be saddled with.
1. No time. It is said of the game football that it is 50,000 people who desperately need exercise watching 22 people who desperately need rest. Frequently churches are structured such that the pastor has so little time available, that he is unable to do more than provide cursory contact with anyone.
2. Prisoner of his role. Some pastors see a potential problem if they give any time to someone in particular because others will condemn him for favoritism. In a way, the pastor is held as a social hostage as access to him is considered an indicator of social prominence.
3. Organizational agent. Even if the church is not part of a denomination, administering the church as an organizational system can produce similar results. For example, pastoral counseling might just consist of an interview and subsequent referral to whatever external resource has already be established.
4. Limited depth. The structure of most churches is often such that the pastor himself has no opportunity to grow in his faith or knowledge of the Lord. As a result those who approach him with their desire for greater insight, understanding, and wisdom, may find the well more shallow than they thought.
5. Potential opponent. A pastor may see someone dissatisfied as a potential trouble maker. Many pastors see the smooth operation of their programs, events, activities, and routine as proof that they have been faithful in their ministry. Someone being led to seek greater depth in their faith can be seen as 'upsetting the apple cart' and be targeted for coercive force to be compliant or encouragement to move elsewhere.
Some pastors make a valiant effort to live their faith in spite of the the obstacles and limitations with which they are faced. It is a good idea for a Christian who is becoming radical to be aware of the limitations he may face in being 'fed' by his pastor. Particularly those who would compel him to 'obey' their instructions rather than teach him through persuasion.
The radical Christian may have to face the fact that he will have to 'feed' himself. The availability of public sources of instruction, while not relational, can be useful such as books, videos, and the Internet. While it would be nice to find someone who could be a spiritual 'father' to us, God still is faithful.
When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. - Psalm 27:10
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