A pastor must be like a matchmaker who persuades a girl to marry someone else. He must be very careful the girl does not fall in love with him, the matchmaker. Likewise, the pastor must be a guide, enabling the believer to reach the Bridegroom. He must ignite a love for the Bridegroom in the hearts of the believers, so that after hearing one of his sermons, the congregation should not say, “How beautifully he has preached,” but “How wonderful Jesus is!” Remaining attached to the pastor and not passing through him to the Savior, about whom he preaches, can be a deadly danger for the believer.
A pastor is not called to be a template. We have to be careful not to create a culture where people feel obligated to mimic their pastors or any leader in the church. In the past, there has been some of that – certainly not explicitly taught by any pastors that I am aware of but has somehow been assumed.
Anyone who is a seasoned leader knows that leadership can at times be lonely. Leaders regularly face times of being misunderstood, criticized, blamed, and judged. However, the cost is worth it. The reward is worth it. Peoples lives being transformed is worth it. Your job isn’t finished yet. Keep running, persevering, and pioneering. Keep reforming, inspiring, and building. God believes in the vision and dream He has placed within your heart.
The current state of our preaching is driven by an admirable desire to show our age the relevance of the gospel. But our recent attempts have inadvertently turned that gospel into mere good advice—about sex, about social ethics, about how to live successfully. This either offends or bores our culture. A renewed focus on the Cross, articulated in a culturally intelligent way, is the only way forward. Some will be scandalized by it, others will call it foolishness, and yet some will cling to it as salvation. But at least everyone will be talking about that which is truly First and Last.
A prayerless church member is a hindrance. He is in the body like a rotting bone or a decayed tooth. Before long, since he does not contribute to the benefit of his brethren, he will become a danger and a sorrow to them. Neglect of private prayer is the locust which devours the strength of the church.
Preaching the truth without love is like giving someone a kiss when you have bad breath. No matter how good the kiss, no one will come back for a second one. This is what happens when, in anger or disgust, we tell the lost how terrible and depraved they are. Even though it all may be true, our negative approach blocks and distorts the central message of the Bible—that God sent His Son not to condemn the world, but to save it (see John 3:17).
Being a teacher and leader is difficult work, and the judgment is going to be strict. Find leaders who grasp the severity of this burden and are willing to model humility, not merely in private but in public as well. Challenging voices who are ready to publicly criticize and rebuke others but are not willing to apply the same standards to themselves (and admit when they fail to live up to them) are not worthy of the mantle of Christian leadership.
To me, it is nothing when I am applauded and well-spoken of. There is only one thing I ask of you-to prove your approval of me through your works. That is how you can speak well of me, and that is what is going to do you good. This, to me, is the greatest honour. I prefer it to a material crown. I do not desire applause and being well spoken of. I have one request to make-for you to listen to me in quiet attentiveness and to put my advice into practice. This is not a theatre. You don’t sit here in order to admire actors and to applaud them. This is a place where you must learn the things of God.