From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev.Jason Cheung
Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,
46 Jesus’ disciples were arguing about which one of them was the greatest. 47 Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he had a child stand there beside him. 48 Then he said to his disciples, “When you welcome even a child because of me, you welcome me. And when you welcome me, you welcome the one who sent me. Whichever one of you is the most humble is the greatest.”
- Luke 9:46-48
Celebrity pastors are the tip of the iceberg that is the church today. You may have heard of the falls of pastors like Bill Hybels, Mark Driscoll, Carl Lentz, Bruxy Cavey. Overreach of power, sexual promiscuity and marital unfaithfulness, and abuse. And cover ups. This isn’t the world of politics, this is the church of Jesus Christ.
Yet, we all must see the glaring warning signs, even if – especially if – we are not pastors. Without doubt, pastors called to gospel ministry are held to a high standard. There is great consequence given the responsibility. But celebrities are celebrities because people follow them. And the church today – no matter the country, denomination, size or make up – every church is susceptible to the worship of pastors.
A friend remarked to me, walking out of a session at a Christian conference (for leaders no less), that the stirring message we just heard drew us to know more about the speaker (and his marriage and his kids), than Jesus.
That observation stuck with me.
There is a reason for this phenomenon. When preachers tell stories about themselves more than about Jesus, this interests people, it resonates relevancy, and communicates to the masses that the person on stage “is just like me.” But the pulpit was never meant to be a platform for the preacher. It is rather, a resounding beacon of the Gospel of Jesus. For sure, in the art of sermon delivery, personal experience and stories certainly help communicate the gospel; but these stories should never supplant the story of the “old-rugged cross.” If in my preaching you know more about me, than about the beauty and majesty of God, then I have failed.
Pastors who constantly refer to themselves need friends, not a congregation to love them.
Leading well is crucial. But leading God’s people is not exercising greater faith than all those I am leading. I hope this is a relief to you who lead bible studies, lead a Sparks or T&T group, lead a community or fellowship group, or just lead your family. The heavy burden of expectation that you must have greater faith in order to lead, is a myth and a lie. (Listen carefully, as those in positions of leadership often tell this lie). The measure of “greater” is a concept of the world, creating a man-made hierarchy that hinders the flourishing of the priesthood of all believers. The gospel doesn’t nurture greater Christians and lesser Christians, just faithful Christians.
You only need the faith of a child. Jesus taught this very thing to his grumbling, power-grabbing disciples. Just faith. Simple, child-like faith. Not greater education. Not greater experiences. Not greater ability. Not greater credentials. Just faith.
Perhaps we have made too much of leaders among us, and not enough of our Lord.
Notice how Jesus turns the disciples’ attention away from themselves, and onto how to commune deeper with him and the Father. Jesus masterfully disciples us, like this: “You want to be great? Then, humble yourself and open your arms to welcome the least of all. This is how you are to be great in my kingdom. Humility.”
Pastors (who are people) will almost always disappoint us in some way. Give them grace, for they are not perfect. But also etch this clear in your mind: faithful pastors point you to Jesus and not to themselves. There is no place in God’s church for celebrity pastors. Let’s not elevate these brothers and sisters to an expectation that will ultimately crush them. Rather, thank God, for faithful leaders who point us with quiet assuredness to the glory and goodness of Jesus, our Lord and our Redeemer
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Jason Cheung