If I’m being totally honest, when I read the Bible I get really messed up with what I think, today I was reading in Matthew 23 and Jesus said this:
2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3so practice and observe whatever they tell you— but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Jesus was telling the disciples a lot about leadership in this passage. First of all he was instructing them to honor the pharisees, which is contrary to the what I feel about pharisees. But Jesus tells his followers to listen to them because they are in a position of honor. And what they tell us to do, we should do out of honor. But we should not be like them. We’ve all followed leaders who we didn’t want to be like, but we should not just follow begrudgingly, we should honor the position they hold. I heard Steven Furtick talk about honor on the Catalyst Podcast a few months ago and it blew me away.
Jesus says to honor them by obeying them but don’t strive to be like them, because they don’t practice what they preach. My prayer is that as a leader I will always be able to say I practiced what I preached. I’m not perfect, but I’m press on to be more and more like Jesus. I don’t want it to be said of me that I asked people to do things that I’m not willing to do myself. There is not job too small for me, just like there is no job that is too big for me. If I ask people to read the bible everyday, then I better be willing to read the Bible everyday too.
Verse 8 is where things get tricky for me. As a pastor am I missing the point of this verse, “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.” I’m a teacher, a pastor, a modern day rabbi, that’s part of my job. I think this passage is why I don’t really like to be called “Pastor Jason.” Because I know how human I am, and I really want to be normal like everyone else. When people want the job of Pastor for the title, that makes me nervous for them and the people they lead.
I do believe that God calls certain people to a life of service in the local church. The job title that we have given to those people is pastor, so I can totally get behind calling people pastor. But maybe Jesus is saying that when we listen to our Pastors more than we listen to Jesus, our true instructor, then we are in effect practicing idolatry.
Ministry should never be about putting on a show so that you can be honored in public. Should ministry really be about living a life in private that honors God and helping others to live that same kind of life. The pastors job is to help people to learn to hear from God. That’s spiritual growth, when our people are coming to church not to encounter the communicators on the stage, but to encounter the presence of God in their heart. If our church is a place where people learn to meet with Jesus and learn how to carry out their life with the Holy Spirit every day of the week, I believe that church can’t help but grow.
Jesus didn’t really present a church growth model, neither did Paul, or Peter, or James, or any of the Gospel writers. What they seem to be presenting is a model of living every day with Jesus, getting out instruction directly from him. And we do this through Bible reading, through prayer, through community with other believers. It is good to have a plan for the growth that God will bring to your church, but if people are not connecting with Jesus for themselves then that growth will burn up in the sun. Good disciples make disciples.
Just thinking digitally.
after I wrote this post, i read this. good thoughts.