I’ve been in the church long enough to know that pastors are not always all that they’re cracked up to be; that the divergence between what you see publicly and what goes on behind the scenes is often fairly severe. Still, I get really disappointed.
I recently heard a story about a pastor – a younger guy with a fairly well known church whom I have a lot of respect for – being an egomaniac behind closed doors. Hard to work with, moody, demanding, taking advantage of people, etc., he’s left a “trail of tears” of fired/resigned assistants.
That makes me sad. Sad on a human level because treating people badly is always bad. But sad on a pastoral/theological level because … well, cripes, I mean, this kind of behavior is completely at odds with the New Testament’s model of leadership. You know … “If anyone would be first, he must be last, and be the servant of all.” How in the world do you get away with conducting a ministry that chews people up and spits them out with that kind of clear teaching from Jesus to light your path? How in the world can you claim to follow the Christ who “takes up the towel” (John 13) as a model of how to “do” leadership in the church when you treat people like that? People feeling “abused” by leadership is perhaps the strongest sign that leadership is only giving lipservice to the gospel.
Sadly, I think that part of the reason that pastors do this is because they think that there is some “mandate” out there for them to use their churches/ministries as a way of validating their sense of calling. Which means that their leadership is driven not by love or a desire to “serve the servants of God”, but by their ego-needs. That is to say, it is driven by Hell.
If you’re a leader, and you’re doing this at all, please stop. If you can’t stop, please do us all a favor and resign from ministry.
If you’re almost-a-leader, please take heed of Christ’s teaching and remember that the church is NEVER your tool for validating your ego-needs. It’s a collection of God’s people whom you are called to serve, and if the New Testament is anywhere close to being correct, because of your position, you are actually the lowest person on the totem pole in your community. Everyone else is ranked higher than you (see Phil 2). So please act that way. Don’t ever say (even of your staffers), “You guys work for me.” They don’t. They work for God, and God’s people. And you work for them. That’s how Jesus set it up. So “serve the servants of God”, make their lives and their service a joy, don’t take advantage of them, and by all means, do your best not to leave in your wake a bunch of good-hearted people who got burned out of serving Jesus because of your egomania.
Die to your ego needs
Lift God’s people
Take up the towel
Grace and peace to you.