While I was speaking to a pastor on the Lord’s Day at the entrance to his church, a teenage girl came out, and bowed before him with her hands lifted up to receive. He obliged her pleading hands by dropping his keys, phone, and Bible into them. I was uncomfortable during this exchange as well as with her maiden-like departure from what appeared to be the king.
I was told by another church member that they once attended a church where the pastor received gifts on her birthday by each member approaching her, bowing down, and laying gifts at her feet.
On another occasion, a church—with the pastor’s knowledge—planned a birthday party for the pastor on Easter Sunday. Gifts and food were given in honor of the man of God
Possibly you have some stories like these from your own ecclesiastical pilgrimage.
Yesterday at our church, we began a series dealing with church culture. For about ten weeks we will take time to examine common cultural forms found in public gatherings of God’s people and work through the Biblical and logical aspects of each as well as common abuses in contemporary Tsonga culture. The first topic to be treated was pastoral authority.
(And I trust no reader will assume that because we started with a discussion of the form, we ignored the underlying basic beliefs, presuppositions, and Scriptural foundation behind it.)
Here’s two sections from our Lord’s Day meditation that I thought may be interesting.
Four wrong ways to respect a pastor
- To treat him as if he were not now, nor could he in the future, be a sinner.
- To depend on him as if he had intrinsically more power than the average Christian. As if the source of those powers somehow came directly from him.
- To give him glory that is not directed toward Christ.
- To love him more than we love Christ. If our respect, love, dependence, or joy stops in him, then we have sinned. That is idolatry. When we are traveling, we do not kiss the signs along the road. We are grateful for their presence and their help, but we move happily past them toward the destination.
Four right ways to respect a pastor
- We should imitate his faith, follow his example, and obey his teaching as he follows Christ and His Word. The greatest way to offer Biblical respect to a pastor is to base your entire life on the same structure that he is building on.
- We should pray for him to be free from temptation, wise, successful with his family, and filled with the Spirit. I am in my 13th year of pastoral service, and I didn’t have difficulty coming up with names of 6 men that I have known that have fallen from the ministry. It would be a wonderful statement of respect to invest time in interceding for the man or men who are called and gifted to teach the assembly by word and deed.
- We should thank him and strengthen his spirit with words from time to time.
- We should support him financially so that he is able to continue to doing good, all the while recognizing that the indiscriminate giving of money may lay temptations before any son of Adam.
In other words, you must respect your pastor in any way that will help you move past your pastor to Jesus Christ. And if he is a good pastor, he will want it that way.