The Fearful Pastor
Pastors are sheep, too. They can easily be led astray from Christ, the Great Shepherd of the sheep (Heb 13:20). The quest for performance is a great temptation for pastors in most cultures, today.
To feed and tend to Christ’s sheep is all that is required. The pasture is the Bible, and the simple task is for the under-shepherd to keep directing the other sheep back to the Bible. There, the sheep will be fed and be safe. Their souls will learn to be satisfied with the Word of God.
If a pastor is not content with the Bible alone, he will soon be managing a community activity center. That will keep the A-types attending, but others will come for help with the overwhelming conditions they suffer under in the world. If your pastor is continuing his education with a counseling degree, you can be sure he has left his first love. The congregation will soon follow.
The Bible is clear about matters that trouble God’s people. It is also sufficient for these matters. Because it is authoritative, it should be exclusively taught and preached as a steady diet for Christians.
When pastors redeem their time with anything other than their own study, and ministry of the Word to God in prayer (Acts 6:4), and to others in practice, then they are living in fear. The loss of confidence in the Bible is evidenced in a myriad of ways, but the result is always the same.
If a pastor employs gimmicks and marketing techniques, learned from the world, he will also become his own cheerleader: “Look at me! Look at our exciting church! Oh, boy! God is at work!” Faithful pastors know that the ways of the world only attract goats, which is why they refuse to jump on the “rah, rah, rah!” bandwagon.
A growing, healthy church is one where the sheep quietly graze on biblical truth. They are learning doctrine and begin to handle the Word of God in such a way that demonstrates they have spent time…a great amount of time with the Lord. This is only alluring to genuine believers, who have no interest in the games, live animal shows, and frenetic schedule of various teams and groups.
Busy with activities, these people, in truth, should be learning the Scriptures. The fearful pastor believes his position and paycheck depends on activity, ever greater activity to survive as a pastor. He starves himself, spiritually, and so he starves the people in his care, too. If he persists in ancillary non-sense, he will prove to be a charlatan, who found a great way to make a living. If, however, he asks, “Is this all there is? This rat race to make a name for myself and for our local church?” Well, then, there may be hope.
The fearful pastor must be warned. If he repents and learns God’s Word, and then faithfully preaches it, then he will suffer as Christ did. If he does not repent of being the ringmaster of a three-ring circus, then he will face Christ in the judgment (2 Cor 5:10). The loss of popularity is real.
The fearful pastor must decide whether he is a man-pleaser or a God’s pleaser. The consequence of being faithful with God’s Word is the discovery of the small flock, the remnant, who only want God’s Word. The fearful pastor is right to be afraid. Faithfulness is very costly, and yet it is evidence of the Spirit’s work (Gal 5:22). There are small numbers in every category of man’s assessment of the faithful church.
Moving from being a fearful pastor to one who is faithful, itself requires great faith, but that faith is provided with each decision to be Word-focused in every way. He who called you is faithful. He will do it. Are you convicted? Repent and see grace abound, even in the midst of ensuing losses. Are you faithful? Bless you, pastor! He knows your labor and the love you have shown toward His name. Press on.
Spokane Valley, Washington
March 28, 2022