It is a strange phenomenon. With free access to the Bible still available to us, you wonder how it could be. Perhaps you have seen it yourself in some places within our Independent Baptist world. I speak of the peculiar feature of a pastor having the full reign for every decision we make. Then there is the stranger feature of people giving them that right. God’s people were not created to look to another man for all of life’s decisions, nor were His pastors created to make them all for everyone else. The weight of omniscience is more than any man can bear.
Since I have the call of pastor on my life, I am pro-pastor all the way. When the Lord discussed giving gifts to men in Ephesians 4:11-16, He listed pastors (I believe “pastors and teachers” refer to one office). Specifically, He gave pastors,
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:12). That is pretty heady stuff. He even gave them an authority in church matters (1 Peter 5:2-3). But let’s not get carried away!
The Lord didn’t leave us to wonder about other aspects of pastors either. Most telling is what He said in 2 Corinthians 4:7,
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Did you get that? A pastor carries the treasure because he handles the Word of God, but he is not the treasure. That is a key distinction that we must never fail to make.
He has a gift to teach and preach the Word of God, but with his feet of clay he is just like everyone else too. He sins, he fails, he makes stupid decisions, he argues with his wife, and he is bewildered by parenting at times. He sometimes doesn’t know what to do and has to pray and seek the Lord like you, he has no more access to God than you, and even with his gift and best efforts he sometimes misinterprets the Bible. Hopefully, he can guide you to the right Scripture for your issue, and perhaps can give some decent counsel, but what biblical evidence is there that he can better determine God’s will for your life than you?
Let me be more blunt–he has no special insight into what career you should pursue, whether you should be in the ministry or not, or where you should live. He especially has no idea whom you should marry or what car you should buy. He might point out a Scripture if you are pursuing a sinful choice, but out of the non-sinful options he is far behind you in the ability to decide that for you. You have a much more vested interest in your future than he does. You probably thought and prayed about it more than him too. If he has a real pastor’s heart, he will be serious about praying for you, but he doesn’t have special knowledge beyond the Word you too possess.
If he is honest, he will tell you there are many categories in life he knows less about than you. He wouldn’t dare pass himself off as an expert on every subject. If you ask him who to marry, besides biblical prohibitions, he will say you figure it out yourself since you will be the one that has to live with them. If he lives up to his calling, he will as his greatest work equip you to seek the Lord and not be dependent on him or any man. He is a failure if you can’t go right on with the Lord if something happens to him.
Watch out for the so-called pastor who wants you to be dependent on him. In light of the Scripture cited above, if he tries to convince you that you must run all decisions by him and let him decide them for you, he is a dishonest user. Whether he is lying to himself or to you only God knows, but he is lying none the less. He is not a shepherd, but a wolf; he is not a pastor, but a hireling. John 10 tells you mess you will be in if you follow a hireling. Just when you need him, he will not be there! If you have such a pastor I have one word for you: run!
Can I give a word to that sincere pastor who has been inundated with this teaching and feels a failure? Your feelings are telling you the truth–you can’t do this! The good news is that you were never asked to. Your marching orders are “feed the flock of God.” You can do this. So move to the real work of a pastor because you will never bear up under the weight of omniscience.
All posts in this series here.