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.
27 thoughts on “The Weight Of Omniscience (Independent Baptist Truth Revolution #6)”
Great thoughts! BTW God told me to tell you… JK. 😉
Glad you were listening! 🙂
Great post Jimmy!
Sadly, this is not a very strange phenomenon in the Independent Baptist camps, we have found it to be the norm. My husband and I have spent many years dedicating our ministry to liberating those who are bound by this. We too wondered why would people surrender to be slaves to someone else’s law? We came to realize that they do this because it is easier than “doing the work” to have a real relationship with Christ. It’s easier to let someone else tell me what to do, what to wear, where to go, who to fellowship with, what Bible to carry, etc., etc. etc. And we’ve also found that the pastors who are happy to be the “omniscient” are pridefully comfortable in their self-righteousness. I know that sounds rough, but to believe that you have all the answers and are right in everything is not only nauseating to me, it is to God also. On the other side, what a wonderful experience to help believers find their liberty in Christ. It’s what my husband and I live for! Thank you for your well-written insights, Pastor Jimmy.
Thanks Melody! I think dodging a real relationship with Christ is the single biggest reason people are tempted to allow someone this role in your life. Hope to meet you and your husband someday!
That would be great!
Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 11:1 (“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”) are often used as proof texts for this phenomenon. Yet, a closer examination will prove that Paul was saying “I am following Christ. Heed my example, and follow Christ too!” I don’t know who loses more in the scenario described in your post, the pastor or his flock, but how much greater is it if we can just honestly say “All eyes on you, Lord. You are enough.”
Even if you interpret as some do, the pastor would have to examined to see if he is following Christ before he is followed.
Well said. We follow Christ and some others just happen to be going that same way!
Another great post Bro. Jimmy!
I laugh at myself….Reading this and saying,”Well, that sounds correct”, all the time thinking what would the pastor at my church, or any other of the “fundamental Baptist” preachers think of me for even considering these posts! Sad day if I, or any of us fear man more than God!
Thanks for commenting! The fear of man is truly at play for many!
Thank you for a word that needed to be said.
Thanks Terry for the encouragement!
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I once had a fellow pastor tell me of how he disagreed with one of his members moving for a job. He told them, “I am your pastor, and if the Holy Spirit didn’t tell me then He didn’t tell you.”
Incredible and ridiculous!
I’ve had the opportunity to travel to a lot of churches and stay at several pastor’s homes during my college years and it’s ridiculous how many pastor’s have this mindset. You can normally tell within the first few conversations…
I’m not saying they aren’t called of God because of this, but it’s so true that this can lead to a boatload of problems in their ministry.
It does seem to come out early in conversations!
So very well said. I can’t help wondering about those whose response to this is, “Don’t label Independent Baptists! This is prevalent everywhere. It can happen to anybody who is walking in the flesh.” That’s pretty much the comment I got when I shared this article on my Facebook page. What’s up with the denial? Just because its”normal,” its ok, and doesn’t need too be pointed out..? When will we open our eyes??
We must help open the eyes! Thanks for sharing on your Facebook page. Please comment anytime!
I think the Ephesians 4 passage sums it up pretty well. Some key ideas in here: Equip and build up the people, bring all into the unity of the faith and knowledge, see that they become mature in the fullness of Christ, grow up in Christ, and we are all joined together in the same body, each member serving the others, and the body can only grow when all members are serving the others properly. What does all this mean? The goal of the pastor is not to run people’s lives, but to build them up so that, not only are they just as capable as you of making mature decisions, but that they too are the ones serving and helping the others in the church. Pastors are Biblically mandated to see to it that every member is using his gifts. And NO pastor has them all, so there are things that the pastor CANNOT do, and gifts he CANNOT perform as well as others. The pastor is an overseer, not an overlord. This Ephesians 4 passage does not come out and say it, but all things read together, it seems Paul is getting at the fact that we are all the same in Christ, and everyone has the responsibility to be mature in Christ, to know Him, and to do their part in His kingdom. When pastors end up over-lording, they rob the people of their joy. Being a pastor is just one piece in a very large puzzle full of all sorts of pieces of different shapes and sizes and colors. The beauty of the picture can only be seen when all pieces come together. Too many pastors, however, won’t let the other pieces come out of the box as the pastor glories in his own shape, size, and color, even though he doesn’t even know his own place because he can’t see the whole picture without the other pieces. Everyone is condemned to obscurity, even himself.
Thank you for your blog.
Could you tell me what your thoughts are on this…. http://preparinghisway.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/obey-them-that-have-rule-closer-look.html
or if you have any posts related specifically to the same topic.
I agree that no one should rule beyond any level of accountability. Many pastors have wreaked havoc without accountability.
On the other hand, I do not believe that requires a plurality of pastors in every church. The writer on that blog was very convinced by his argument, but I believe it contained one assumption that that I could not accept. His argument for the plural being used only works if the letter is addressing only one local church. If that were so, then he would be correct. I fully believe several local churches are being addressed and so the plural being used means nothing. If you are addressing the pastor in more than one local church, you would use the plural even if every church addressed only had one pastor. It seems to me that James was the sole pastor do the church in Jerusalem.
Still, a pastor may not “lord over” God’s people. He is subject to the Word he preaches and can, and must, be held accountable.
Thanks for writing.