The God who has called and commissioned the pastor will not share his glory with another, and that includes the pastor (Isaiah 48:11). The pastor is in ministry to bring glory to God, not himself. Many pastors have forgotten this. However, pastors may recover, or safeguard from this act of treason.
First, the pastor must understand that the ministry he has received is because of God’s mercy (2 Cor. 4:1). This is the nature of true Christian ministry. However, pastors often lose sight of this fundamental truth and think that the ministry is theirs to do as they please. When this happens, pastors inevitably fall prey to empire-building rather than ministry-building.
Second, pastors are to proclaim Christ as Lord and themselves as their people’s slaves for Christ sake (2 Cor. 4:5). I know that we’re not use to this type of language in the ministry. But it’s in the Bible. It has always been there. Both an understanding and submission to the truths of 2 Corinthians 4:5 will prevent pastors from seeking either to steal or to share the spotlight with God.
Third, pastors are only clay pots, that is, baked clay pots, containing the treasure of the gospel “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7 ESV). As clay pots, pastors are fragile and breakable. This must never be forgotten. So, instead of seeking God’s glory, pastors should consider it a blessed privilege to be uniquely called and commissioned by God to carry the treasure of the gospel.
Consequently, the effective and successful pastor is not the one who builds the biggest ministry while stealing the spotlight from God. Rather, the effective and successful pastor is the one who understands that he is but a mere clay pot—who is wholly dependent on God, and therefore gets out of the way, giving God all the glory (Rom 11:36).