I’m a pastor. I have been all of my adult life. I love it. It’s a privilege. There is no greater honor than when someone says, “Hey, here’s my pastor!”
It’s my firm conviction that everyone in America needs a pastor. Yeah, I said it. Everyone in America needs a pastor. Pastors are good people! They sacrifice and they are highly trained and highly motivated. They are constantly learning and growing and giving. So let me tell you, before I start, that I’m for being a pastor, and I’m for everyone having one. But, not all pastors are created equal.
Surveys tell us over and over again that one of the issues that ranks highest in people’s choices of churches is, what is the pastor like? So let me make a contribution to your search for a great church and a great pastor, because great churches have great pastors, like it or not. There are a whole lot of people who would like for churches to be run by committees. They object to personalities in the pulpit. They think that those are bad things even though that view flies in the face of everything we’ve learned in the Scriptures about how God leads. He leads through personalities, through people, through strong leaders. He gives a church a pastor.
So here are the seven kinds of pastors I’d run from:
1. I’d run from any pastor who wants to tell me how to vote. It’s the pastor’s role to challenge you to seek truth, and to love truth, and to love people. It’s not his job to tell you how to think or come to conclusions.
2. I’d run from any pastor who tells me who to marry. That’s way too much intrusion to your life. No good pastor wants to make that decision. They want to help you to get married well, so you can be married a long, long time and be happy.
3. I’d run from any pastor who wants to tell me how to spend my money. It’s not a pastor’s job to tell you what kind of house to live in and what kind of lifestyle you can afford. It is, however, a pastor’s job to teach you what the sacred Scriptures, what God says about finances. And He has an awful lot to say, not the least of which is that we should owe no man anything except to love.
4. I’d run from any pastor who tells me who to hate. I’m sick and tired, during this election period, of demonizing John McCain and Barack Obama. Neither one deserves it. Any pastor who tells you who to hate, I would run from.
5. I’d run from any pastor who tells me what I can and cannot drink. Now, I know that’s controversial, but the Scriptures teach moderation; not the abstinence from every controversial subject or activity in life. We all make choices. So the choice is moderation in all things, rather than abstinence. Unless, of course, you have an addiction to a certain substance or activity. You should stay away from them. But your weakness or addiction doesn’t define everyone else’s liberty or freedom. If you don’t like that, go to the Scriptures and deal with it, because it wasn’t my idea.
6. I’d run from any pastor who has a new revelation. There are an awful lot of people out there who will tell you that God speaks to them in ways He doesn’t speak to anyone else. I wouldn’t believe it. Whatever God has said and wants you to know, He has said and recorded in the sacred book called The Bible. It can be believed. Pastors are to teach it and apply it; not add to it by their own particular spiritual nuance.
7. I’d run from any pastor who has a long list of dos and don’ts. This may be hard for many people to believe but Christianity is not about morals. It’s about ethics. It’s about what is right. It’s about truth and truth seeking. And truth seekers ultimately, I believe, wind up at The One Who is truth. Jesus said, “I am the life, truth, and the way.” I seek truth. I find Christ.
No amount of moralistic ranting and raving makes a person a Christian or changes the heart. As a matter of fact, what we do doesn’t change until who we are changes. And that’s a matter of the heart, and that’s where the gospel is pointed. So if you are around someone who is condemning you for a long list of things that they prohibit that you’re doing, I’d keep looking to another place.
Now I don’t mean for this Dave Rave to be negative, but sometimes we just have to get real and say what we’re all thinking. So what kind of pastor would I be looking for? One who leads the way with humility and wisdom; one who takes the sacred Scriptures and lifts me up and sets me free; one who can inspire me; one who makes the truth of God compelling and real, and gives me the ability to apply it to my everyday life.
You need a pastor. There are a lot of great ones out there. Go find one.