Pastors, Don’t Confuse Your Calling

One of the saddest remarks I’ve ever read about pastors came from what the media said about a mega pastor a few years back, “He almost destroyed his empire.”

The last time I checked, pastors were not called to build empires in their honor.  Many American pastors have confused their divine calling with the American dream.  They see their pastorate as a way to achieve the American dream–to climb the corporate ladder, to achieve material wealth, to gain celebrity status.

In particular, we have become obssessed with size.  Over the years, when pastors discover that I’m a fellow pastor, their leading question has been, “So how big is your church?”

This is sad, given the fact that it has been filtered through the American dream psyche.  We have come to judge success on the basis of size.  You want to know how successful a pastor is?  Just look at the size of his church.  This is how we talk.  This is our culture.

But Scripture says otherwise.  Pastors are not called to compete with each other, seeing who could build the biggest church on the block, who could achieve celebrity status, and so on.

Rather, pastors are called to be under-shepherds of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ himself.  They are called to faithfully feed the flock entrusted to their care, not to build empires in their honor.

Perhaps as pastors, we ought to be reflecting on 1 Peter 5:1-5 daily.

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4 Responses to Pastors, Don’t Confuse Your Calling

  1. Scott says:

    I’m current reading Eugene Peterson’s book, The Contemplative Pastor. I love Peterson. He is so level-headed, gracious, even a bit ‘ancient’, reminding us of those ancient paths (Jer 6:16). All of his writings keep us balanced in such a fast-paced, technologically-driven world in which we now live.

    • TC says:

      Yeah, Peterson has been there. Have you had the chance to read his memoir as yet, The Pastor? How is The Contemplative Pastor?

      • Scott says:

        I have not been able to read The Pastor just yet. But I think I will get to it by the end of 2012. I like The Contemplative Pastor. It’s very solid, well-balanced stuff on how to be a counter-cultural pastor in our society. Ironically, it’s very different from my general make-up. I tend to be a visionary, teacher, passionate about mission. And so this is why I like returning to Peterson. He is very pastoral and committed to the local. I’ve also read a couple of his books in his ‘spiritual conversation’ series.

  2. TC says:

    Okay, I have a couple from the “spiritual conversation” series but haven’t read any just yet. I will love to read The Contemplative Pastor at some point. As a pastor, I tend to be quite theological in my thinking, an ounce of a visionary, and even less mission-minded, though at times I get passionate about missions.

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