In this day and age where technology is replacing personal attentions and where individualism (“I do it my way”) is still one of our foes, today’s pastors face challenges that seem unique to this generation (actually, not really as you will see). For instance, because the internet usage is normative, there are plenty of sermons available online, which means more people have access to all sorts of so and so. This can create both positive and negative effects. One benefit is that there are other like-minded ministers that we can refer to. Sometimes it is reassuring for our congregations to know that we are not the only ones who are preaching and teaching the things that we do. They are comforted to know that we stand shoulders with men like Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, MacArthur, Piper, and host of others.
But here’s a negative effect. Once they have access to online readings or listen to sermons, they begin to listen to other men more than their own pastor. And they somehow think that fame and evangelical celebrity status equals authority, or more authoritative than their own pastor.
But this problem is nothing new. In fact, Paul had to address a similar situation in Corinth. He wrote “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:5-7).
Whenever I’m asked to guest speak at a church, I normally tell the invited church that the difference between me as their guest speaker and their own pastor is that I come and I go. However, their own pastor is the one who stays and ministers to all their spiritual needs at both good and bad times. And I would generally tell the invited church to faithfully support and love their pastor. As much as I love and respect men like MacArthur, Piper and others, and as much as I encourage my own congregation to read them, folks in many churches need to realize that those men are not their pastor (unless they attend their churches).
Scripture commands “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17, italicized mine). In fact, in Greek it reads “You obey your leaders.” Our friends at Pyromaniacs, Dan Phillips recently wrote these following words:
Brother, sister: John Piper isn’t your pastor. John MacArthur knows nothing about you. Dave Hunt never got on his knees and prayed for you. Lloyd-Jones won’t come to your house when you’re recovering from surgery, or one of your children shatters your heart, or your marriage is shaking and rocking and barely hanging on. Charles Spurgeon won’t weep with you as you weep.
You could buy or not buy _____’s next book, and he’d never know it. But if you’re in a manageable-size church with a caring pastor and you’re suddenly gone next Sunday, he’ll be concerned. He may call. He may ask if everything’s okay.
God gave you the pastor He gave you.
All that is to say, support and love your pastor today and tomorrow!
And I would highly recommend you read Dan Phillips’ piece on “Porn and paper pastors” at Pyromaniacs. A much kudos to Mr Phillips for doing all of us a service.