Jesus Leaders: What pastors were meant to be

Pastors have an image problem. Despite the growing number of celebrity pastors on television, radio, and bookstore shelves, the wider culture's respect for clergy has been declining for generations. Jim Martin, pastor of Crestview Church of Christ in Waco, Texas, reflects in this article about Jesus' words to religious leaders and how they can help us

The plane was about to take off from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. I noticed the man in the seat across the aisle, one row up, as he began to read The Dallas Morning News. On the front page of the paper in bold letters was a jarring headline. A local pastor had been found guilty of sexually assaulting three women. I watched my fellow passenger as he began reading the story. I wondered what was going through his mind.

Many people are cynical about the church. That's not news. There are many reasons for this cynicism. Some are cynical because of a basic mistrust of the people leading these churches. Some feel burned after learning a leader was living an immoral lifestyle. Others have been burned by placing their confidence in some church leader only to be severely disappointed due to displays of anger, ego, manipulation, etc. In contrast to these experiences, many people today would find genuine Jesus leaders to be quite refreshing.

I honestly believe most preachers, pastors, ministers, and church leaders in general want to do what is right. We get bogged down in systems and models of ministry that are choking the life out of the body of Christ. It might be helpful if we think about preachers, pastors, ministers, and church leaders the way they were meant to be. I want to refer to all of these roles as "Jesus leaders." So, what were Jesus leaders meant to be?

(You may recognize these as Matthew 23 in reverse.)

We are at our best when we practice what we preach. Jesus once scolded the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Yet he told the people to obey them and do what they say to do. He then told his hearers not to follow their example. He bluntly said they did not practice what they preached. Imagine this conversation today: "You are going to visit XYZ Church? Oh, you will enjoy the sermons! One warning: Beware of the preacher's personal example; it's lousy!"

Jesus paints a stark picture of a people who tell others what to do while they sit by aloof and distant, watching the people struggle with their lives but offering no help. It is not enough to have a church full of talkers. Theology and practice are not two separate issues. They are one. Credibility for ministry is not found in talking alone but in doing the Gospel as well. Jesus leaders both talk and do the Gospel.

September 12, 2006

Displaying 1–3 of 3 comments

Rev Walter Jimenez

September 20, 2006  5:24am

Have everyone forgotten the main point? Pastors are called to be servants not salesman. When the people of Israel had a problem, they turned to the priests. 95% of pastors are more impressed with the number of worshippers rather tahn be ing a servant. We are too busy competing with each other. I have tried in vain to fellowship with other pastors, but because of their worthless vanity, they do not have time for fellowship. Is this Biblical? No. Our vanity keeps us from each other as well as separating ourselves from the church. Jesus fellowshipped with saints and sinners alike. I just spoke to an associate pastor of a church. He proceeded to tell me about the prostitues in the area. I asked him if he told them about Jesus. He said that was not his job. He is not led to do that. Huh? Are we not called to reach everyone? Since when have we become so insensitive to the hurting? I wonder if he realized what damage he causes. If he spoke to me like that, I wonder how he treats the memebers of the church. Nevertheless, I will continue to seek my brothers in fellowship.

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C Brown

September 19, 2006  8:22pm

I think the Church is getting lost, because of the glamour that is being sought by the Ministers, as well as the flock.So many people would rather not come into the Church because of the hypocrisy and the lack of love found in the Church.This is truely contrary to the teachings of Jesus.For the scripture has said by this great Love shall all men know that ye are my disciples.The sin,hurt,pain and despaired that the people have, makes them look to the church for help and answers. Instead the people find that no one is listening to their cry or cares about their pain.Until the people of God realizes that it is not about worldly possessions and mans positions of this life, that we should be concerned about,the Church will continue to fail in the plan of Salvation and the saving of souls.This should be our number one priorty for the Ministers of God. We truely needs our heavenly father's help to turn our focus back on the people and off of ourselves.

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Jim Martin

September 13, 2006  9:27pm

These comments are so good! And–they are very helpful to me. Geoff's comment reminded me that we are so tempted to try to look "pastoral." I might add–that look depends upon our peers and their look. Dan't comment is important. It is hard to be a Jesus Leader if I don't know whom he is. (If that doesn't encourage me to stay focused on Jesus in the Gospels!) I like what Colin said regarding perfection. That seems to be an issue from generation to generation. Ric's warning about the danger of isolation is good for all of us to hear. Agan, thanks for the helpful comments

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