Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Identity crisis: Shut up, Mr. Pastor! - Part 1

I want to start by making a statement that may sound surprising.

The pastoral role, from scripture, is not one of authority. Or to rephrase it better, there is nothing that shows that a pastor is meant to be a LEADER within the gathering of believers. 

Okay, you may pick up your jaws from the floor – and/or wipe the suspicious frown from your face now. I am just going to express some thought and ask you to do your own research – but more importantly – find out your place in God and his body because time is really short.

My reason for writing this article is that I notice a growing trend of confusion among God-chasers. It is confusion about functioning within the body of Christ. A lot of the time, a person who wants to ‘work for God’ ends up working in a department of a Christian denomination. Many have come to believe this is the only way to serve God – find a denomination, find a denominational department that you feel resonates with you – and be loyal as you help to build up the ‘house of God’.

That is the way POPULAR Christian practice has wired many to think.

Truth is, nothing could be further from the truth. It is why so many are burnt out and do not know why.  It is also the reason why many wonder why they don’t ‘fit in’ and even when they try, they still do not have a sense of being where God wants them to be. Don’t get me wrong: It is possible and good to belong to a department, and to experience growth as well as contribute – but that does not mean you are functioning within the lord’s body.

Doing some study, I was a bit amazed to find out that the word, ‘Pastor’, which is quite popular today and is synonymous with ‘leader’ in many circles, occurs only once in the New Testament and in only two books of the bible. However, what really roils me is that this role is a desired on for many people not because of a real understanding of what it is about, but because they equate it with leadership. A bigger problem now occurs.
Most people do not even understand what scriptural leadership is about. People use business organisation as a yardstick and think that leadership is about power suits, exotic hotels, control of people and unquestioned authority. The bigger your brand, the more the members and financial income and of course, the more you can have and buy: Trips, hotels, high society functions, even chicks, in short, the ‘good life’ – with a ‘swagga’ in the name of ‘the lord’. Kinda’ reminds you of something out of a hip hop video.


It is for this reason that people attempt to climb up the denominational structure, chorister to choir leader, to deacon, to pastor, to senior pastor, to board member…and if you get lucky, the ‘pastor’/leader, has a stroke (working for the lord) – or better still, dies.

And then you get his ‘mantle’. Hallelujah!

You can then command people, set up meetings, run programs to keep your crown entertained and buzzing – and of course, jealously guard your position – till you have your own stroke, or die. It is a sad scenario because there is not enough space for everyone at the top. That is why you have so many people fighting to climb up denomination rungs and to control denominational boards – and that is why most denomination are very political when you get past the veneer of the niceties, sounds, bright lights and the overused bile-inducing gospel clich├ęs. At the centre, many times, is good old POLITICS. The real problem, however, is a complete misunderstanding of ‘body’ function.

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4: 8, 11-16)

You see the words ‘Apostle’, ‘Prophet’, ‘Pastor’, ‘Evangelist’, ‘Teacher’? The question to be answered right now is, ‘which of these is YOUR gifting?

In many cases, our minds have been so conditioned to think that these GIFTS operate within the confines of a denomination, and even worse, there is a gross misunderstanding to view these as OFFICES or POSTS or APPOINTMENTS rather than what they are: Gifts given by God to individuals to help to build up and contribute to the WHOLE body of Christ without the need for formal ordinations and man-made appointments.

In other words, a pastor does not need a pulpit. A pastor does not need to be ‘ordained’. To be really blunt, if you are not really a pastor, whether you are ordained or given a pulpit or post, you are just a clown with a title – who is clueless about who he is, what he is, and who will be ineffective because he has no understanding of his true identity, abilities and functions. The good news is, as soon as you realise what your true gifting is, and you go on to embrace it, there is a deeper sense of satisfaction and you start to really contribute to the body of Christ.

Actually, friends, none of these roles need an ‘ordination’. You are either it – or

So, which of these is your gifting?

To be continued...

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