At a recent conference, two speakers caught my attention and caused me to examine my heart and ministry. The first was a well-known pastor. I'd never heard her speak before, so I was eager to hear what she had to say. My excitement faded quickly, though, when she started.
She was focused on putting on a performance rather than teaching well. She told a story about looking at the television as a young girl and saying to herself, “I want to be famous one day.” Today she is famous. She’s living the famous lifestyle as well with a huge home, a nice car, and expensive possessions. As she shared, I couldn’t help but wonder if her wish had come true at the expense of Jesus.
Then she started teaching things that weren’t biblical. She shared that she believed divorce was a blessing from God, and she told stories about how it was a gift in her life. I couldn’t believe my ears, yet the audience cheered. Her irresponsible teaching—and Bible reading—seemed to be excused because she was famous.
The final speaker at the conference, though, was very different. A small woman in her seventies made her way to the stage. With no website, and no Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram account, this woman was relatively unknown. And yet she preached the Word of God in a way I’d never heard before. She spoke with might and passion, yet she was incredibly humble. She even chose to sit out in the audience during the conference rather than in the seats reserved for speakers. The entire sanctuary was weeping and praising God by the end of her sermon.
Jesus said those who follow him follow the narrow road. The disciples were beaten, poisoned, tortured, and martyred for the gospel—nothing remotely close to the preachers today who walk the red carpet of flashing lights, mansions, magazine covers, reality shows, limos, and entourage. The disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, yet some preachers today preach from their head and not by the Spirit’s leading. The disciples grew God's kingdom, yet some preachers today are growing the size of their church buildings. Satan offered Jesus a crown without the cross, and it seems he’s done the same for many pastors today.
I rarely hear the stories of pastors who are on their knees in prayer. Rather, I hear the stories of pastors who feel called to start a mega-church, people who want to be famous Christian speakers, and Christian speakers looking for the VIP entrance to a church because they won’t enter the same door as everyone else. If a pastor's heart is to be famous first, then she will make it happen—with or without God.