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Church Idols – Pastors and Teachers

November 5, 2013

The second idol to look at this week is pastors and teachers. This may seem an odd thing to say, as we lift our pastors and their families in prayer and appreciate their leadership. But in some cases it becomes idol worship. In June, I touched on this issue slightly (https://anafalz.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/who-is-your-jesus/) but will expound on it today.

In the previous post I highlighted how we have exalted some famous authors and preachers teachings over the words of the Bible. I will not continue to beleaguer that point but move on to discuss our local pastors. Can our local pastors become idols? Yes, they sure can. How can this possibly be?

The local pastor in many traditions in the preacher and teacher, counselor and mentor and these roles make them endeared to the local church. This endearment tends to make the church look at their pastor through rose-colored glasses, lifting the pastor high. This becomes a problem when this endearment lets a person to overlook wrongdoing by the pastor or when a person stops studying the Bible on their own and relying solely on the pastors word for the meaning of Scripture.

Overlooking wrongdoing by the pastor is a systemic problem occurring in many churches. This starts when little things went wrong, and then overlooked. People either looked the other way or were rebuffed by the pastor. And the church just fell in line. Many times the churches with these problems do not have a system of accountability in, or outside, the church – a trustee, deacon, or elder board to maintain accountability of the church. These situations are not the sole fault of the pastor, as it is the church’s responsibility to have accountability in place.

When a church will overlook pastoral wrongdoings, intentional or not, they are deifying the pastor. Churches should support their pastors, and that includes appropriate correction if necessary. This creates a healthy respect in the church and lets the pastor rest in the knowledge that there are people in his corner. After all, no one is perfect.

The second way we have deified our pastors is by listening to a sermon or teaching lesson and never looking at it again. How is that idolizing our pastor? At one point, the Bible was only for the clergy. This led to a perversion of the Scriptures and false teachings. Then the Bible was translated into English and that opened the opportunity for each person to study Scripture for themselves. This is a healthy counterbalance to the power of the clergy and prevents false teachings from spreading.

We make an idol out of our pastor when we no longer search the Word of God and we rely solely on our pastor for the teachings from Scripture. Each person in the church should be studying the Word daily, reflecting on the sermon from last service and preparing for the next one. We have inherited the Word of God in different translations making it available to each of us. Each must study for themselves and be prepared to share those words with others. In return, we should be ready to receive from others the Word and be prepared to proof their teachings with Scripture.

Remove the burden of being an idol from your pastor. Invest in their health by providing accountability. Praise the pastor when excellence is achieved, and do so in public. If a pastor steps awry, address the issue in private with love and care with the goal of correction and the holiness of the local church. Be an encouragement to your pastor by studying Scripture. At a minimum, study on the Word that was preached on Sunday, or on Wednesday. Bring your questions about it to the pastor. They will be encouraged to see the church taking such a deep interest in the lesson they presented. Honor your pastor; just don’t make the pastor into an idol.

 

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From → Church Idols

5 Comments
  1. What a fantastic post! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • I greatly appreciate your feedback. Look forward to hear what you think about the rest of this series.

  2. Unfortunately, pastors can be “idolized” because of the public nature of their ministry. They’re so visible in a congregation. I want people to see Christ and not me! Every time I step out of the pulpit, I get a lot of, “That was a great sermon”. What I really want to inquire back is this: “So tell me, what are you going to do now having heard that sermon?” I hope we get to see more people taking the sermons to heart and studying the passages on their own. Their spiritual growth depends on it!

    • I was told that 25 percent of the people will love every sermon even if you preach on how to make a PB & J sandwich. Another 25 percent will dislike every sermon. It’s the middle 50 percent who will give you the truth about a sermon.

      But the idolization of pastors and teachers extend beyond the pulpit. Some are given authority without limits or accountability. This is dangerous and unbiblical. There must be respect and accountability for pastors.

      Thank you for your comments and I hope you enjoy the rest of this series.

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