“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”
Pastors have a tough job, they have my full respect. Sometimes I think to myself, “Could I start my own church and be a pastor?”
The Holy Spirit speaks to me each time with the same motivation, “No. I’ve got other things for you to do right now, more important things which express your gifts and personality better. Don’t worry about being a pastor. You are enough just as you are, and you’re doing enough just as you are.”
Understandable. And you know what? I’m fine with that. I get asked quite often, “What church do you preach at?” or, “What times are your services?” I even get called “Pastor Matt,” and it makes me feel honored, but at the same time, I chuckle a little.
I’m not a pastor. I’m a regular person, just like 99% of the world’s Christian population. I’m a regular person who is enjoying a close relationship with Jesus. Each day, I simply grow deeper in the knowledge of His grace through His Word, Christian books, prayer, music, preaching, teaching, videos, movies, podcasts, articles, blogs, TV shows, anything “Jesus”–I study and enjoy. I’m a Jesus junkie who is learning more about his perfect spiritual identity as the days go by.
For my ministry, I’ve taken that relationship and combined it with my God-given gift of communication. In turn, this has supernaturally resulted in me walking out my destiny–and I gotta tell you, it feels good! Even when the world is crashing all around me I still have a peace in my soul that is unshakable, which is Christ in me with me.
All I’ve really done is start to be who I really am: a child of God (see Colossians 1:22, John 1:12, Ephesians 1:5). By doing so, I’ve organically become loving and respectful to Jesus through my words and actions. I had no clue the amount of people who would actually pay attention to what I have to say each day. This is proof that God does more than we can ever imagine when His power is at work within us (see Ephesians 3:20). And my destiny is simple: bring attention to Jesus by allowing Him to live through me.
I’m just like you. No better, no worse. As Christians, we’re the same in the eyes of God. He does not have favorite kids. We’re all His favorite! He doesn’t love us more because of our good behavior, or less because of our bad behavior. He loves us because we’re His children and that’s what good dads do. This same love is applied to pastors as well, only, they are on a platform.
This is a huge responsibility because people are looking to them for life’s answers, so they better be sure to find their complete identity in Christ–not in being a pastor. That position does not make them who they are, Jesus does. Same with all of us.
As I’ve sat back over the years and watched pastors pastor, I’ve noticed a few things:
- People place so much of their faith into that single person, as if they are unable to be wrong. I’ve been guilty of this, and it took me being blindsided by a trusted pastor to realize that just because you preach, that doesn’t mean you fully understand the love of Christ. Our faith must never be found in a pastor, but instead, in Christ alone.
- People want to have extremely close relationships with pastors, sometimes even more than they do Jesus. This is not fair to the pastor. Yes, they want to help you, they want to be involved in your life, but please understand that they have a family life as well. Take it easy on them. For some people, they have placed the opinion of their pastor so high, that when they are rejected by the pastor (because the pastor is trying to establish some healthy boundaries) they get angry and act as if God Himself is rejecting them. Some, even give up on their faith altogether because of the rejection of a pastor. Don’t do that. If you do, the devil has won. Love your pastor, but know that he is just a man (or woman).
- Pastors get attacked more than the average Christian. Of course, the devil doesn’t like anyone making the lives of people better by pointing them to Jesus, let alone through teaching or leading them gracefully. So that dingle-berry from hell will come rushing in with gale-force winds to knock the pastor off his feet through the hate of non-believers, and through the uber-critical religious people. If the pastor is firmly planted in his true identity in Christ, he’ll not budge. If he’s not, he’s toast.
- Some pastors teach too much fear, while others won’t come near “fear” teaching. Peter said that we are to be “well balanced” (see 1 Peter 5:8), this should apply to all aspects of our lives. For pastors, this should be applied to their teachings. If all they teach about is fulfilling their congregations’ dreams, they are selling their flock short. And if all they teach about is how “backsliding” (which is not even a word in the New Testament) will land you in the deepest part of hell, they’re wrong too. Keep the scales balanced. Teach truth and love, 50/50.
Yes, God wants to help us fulfill our dreams, but He is much more interested in molding our lives into Christ’s image through trusting Him, than He is in making sure we have a fancy car or a big house. But at the same time, God couldn’t care less if you have a fancy car and a big house if you are firmly planted in His grace. Those things won’t send you to hell or make you lose your salvation, they are simply details and mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Also, try to remember: more money means we can reach more people. It’s a good thing! It’s not money that is the root of evil but the love of it, and the suppressing of who we really are in Christ with it (see 1 Timothy 6:10).
Another thing I’ve noticed is that some pastors are extremely self-righteous. Their position and title has gone to their heads, causing them to morph into a person with a disgusting arrogance. “How they look” is paramount to everything else and everyone else. Their spirits might be saved, but from their actions and attitudes, Jesus doesn’t seem to fully engulf their mind–instead, church does, being a pastor does.
They are fixated on doctrine, not the Person behind the doctrine. They are obsessed with their suit–or their “cool rebellion” of refusal to not wear a suit. They attempt to appear more holy by what they do or don’t do. They should ask themselves, “Has my position as pastor caused me to become cold and arrogant? Have I lost touch with my people? Is my identity found in my title or in Christ?” And lastly, “Am I showing others who Jesus really is by allowing Him to gracefully live through me?”
Pastors must exude an unconditional love, rather than a fake love that is built on a rewards system for their church members. This is very important because one type of love heals lives, and the other ruins them. Some pastors even lie to their congregations, saying such things as, “If you’re not having any problems in your life, then you should be questioning your salvation.” This is terrible. This is called fear-mongering, and fear will not work. So if that’s you, stop it.
John said, “There is no fear in love, because fear has to do with punishment.” Once we place our faith in Jesus, we no longer have to worry about being eternally punished. He also said, “God is love,” and that “perfect love casts out all fear” (see 1 John 4).
God’s love for us in Christ is perfect! And we have access to this perfect love by grace through faith! (See Ephesians 2:8-9). God doesn’t want you to be afraid of Him. He wants you to be afraid of a life and death without Him. Those are healthy fears. But as far as flinching all day long? No way! If you’re afraid of God, don’t be! He is your loving Father!
A lot of people have been tremendously hurt by pastors, myself included. I’ve seen some put on one face in the pulpit, but in a one-on-one setting, they are a completely different person. I’ll not go into that, but if you pick up my book, True Purpose In Jesus Christ, I devote nearly an entire chapter to it.
But on the other hand, if it weren’t for the pastors who truly know the heart of Christ, and them teaching me, leading me, and guiding me…I don’t think I’d be where I’m at today. The pastors who’ve encouraged me, telling me that God loves me infinitely despite my struggles, yet at the same time advising me to begin living out my spiritual perfection if I ever wanted to get the most out of life–these are the pastors who have molded me into who I am today. To them, I want to say, “I thank God for you. I’m so grateful for you teaching me about not only my true identity in Christ, but also the ministry of complete reconciliation with God through Jesus–which is the gospel. I am a life that was changed because you taught me about such grace.”
The more I think about pastors, overall, the more they have my sincere admiration. Just the amount of relationship juggling is mind-boggling. Everybody wants to be a part of their pastor’s life, and that’s impossible. If that’s you, I’m sure he or she cares deeply for you, but there is no way they can have a normal life and be scrambling around a web of needy people 24/7–even though I’m sure they want to. So give them a break. When they set boundaries, don’t resent your pastor like the devil wants you to. Instead, think of them with love.
So today, my friends, know this: Yes, your pastor does have the ability to be incorrect–just like you do, and just like I do. None of us are perfect in word, thought, or deed, no matter our positions. But the great news is, on the inside of us is a perfect Savior combined with our perfect spirit! So let’s all do as Jesus said and make sure we are showing others our true identity: by our love (see John 13:35).
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, this morning I lift up all pastors to you, ALL OF THEM, all throughout the world. Nothing is too big for you, so I’m praying a world-wide prayer today. I ask that you bless each and every pastor with peace today. Help them to understand the love of Christ on the deepest level possible, and then help them teach it to their people. Lift them up if they are down, REJUVENATE THEM! And if they’ve placed themselves higher than Christ in their own minds, knock them off their pedestal, but do it gently. Help every pastor today to be a blessing! They CAN change the world for the better! I ask that you instill in each and every pastor’s mind, your grace, on a whole new level! Thank you, Lord. Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!