I have blogged before about how heavy I feel the responsibility of being a pastor. When I think of the awesome responsibility God has given me as His under-shepherd to His precious people, I am humbled.
Humility is a good thing.
Since the pastor is “out in front” at every gathering, speaking to the people, leading the church in a particular direction, people tend to view their pastor as their leader. And without humility, the people’s esteem can “puff up” a pastor. Unfortunately, I’ve been around pastors who have gotten a little too, shall I say, “puffy.”
So this dose of godly wisdom from J.C. Ryle is just the preventative medicine I need:
“We should beware of resting our claim to the people’s attention on our outward [pastoral] call only. It will never do to tell our people, ‘We are your ordained ministers, and therefore you must believe and follow whatever we tell you.’ On the contrary, we must tell them to prove our teaching by Scripture, and not to receive it unless it is scriptural. That man has no right to expect the attention of his people, who does not preach the Gospel and live the Gospel. The rule of Paul is clear on this point. He told the Thessalonians to esteem their ministers very highly ‘for their work’s sake’ (1 Thessalonians 5:13). When there is no ‘work’ done, it is vain to expect the people’s esteem.
Pastors, do the work of humbly working as God’s servant to His people. Use your position to serve, not to presume upon others.
Church attendees, make us pastors “prove our teaching by Scripture.” We don’t get to say, “Because I’m the pastor and I say so!”
UPDATE: This post went into my thinking for my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.