Saturday, March 29, 2008

The "Best" Pastors?

Recently I've been seeing references to "best" pastors, which leads directly to the question - what exactly is a "best" pastor? Does such a creature exist, or is this notion that there are such things as a "best" or "greatest" pastor remarkably similar to controversy the apostles got into over which of them was the greatest. Mark 9:33 relates this discussion
And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Here, Christ defines "greatness" in the kingdom of God as putting one's self last and serving others. But in today's church, the typical definition of a "best" pastor appears to be someone who is highly trained, are good speakers, able to spot heresies, and the like. But I can't say I've heard the term "servant of all" ever as part of the definition of "best" pastor.

Not only that, but allowing the idea that there are being "best" pastors also allows an opening for the inherent temptation to favor one pastor over against another. This kind of division is nothing new, and we read from 1 Corinthian 3:5ff:
For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
The Corinthians were divide as to who they were following - as if Paul or Apollos could save them. Paul makes it absolutely clear that the accomplishment of any growth in the kingdom of God was from God alone, not those who planted or watered as God assigned to each.

This problem is discussed again in 1 Corinthians 4:6ff:
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
There is nothing any Pastor has or does which is not from God, so the idea of there being a "best" pastor is like saying there's a "best" God. Since it's God which accomplishes His working through His ambassadors, all glory should go to Him alone for any good which is accomplished through His soldiers.

Were that more people instead took instruction from Luke 17:10ff:
“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’
Only God works faith in man, and brings about His will. Pastors serve as His ambassadors, through whom Christ makes His appeal (2 Corinthians 5:20), but they must never consider that the success of this appeal is due to anything other than the working of God Himself through them.

To God alone be the Glory!

All citations from The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

1 comment:

steve martin said...

Nice article (post)!

whenever I tell my Pastor what a great sermon he's delivered or what a good job he's done he just says, "I'm just an underline of the Word...that's all. Go and do likewise."

Thanks very much!

- Steve Martin San Clemente, CA