December 12

Who is Your (Real) Pastor? Part 2

Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

I Thessalonians 5:12-13a And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.

If you attend a church, you have a pastor. Submit your heart to that pastor, pray for him/her and the leadership team, and believe God to speak through them to build you up (see yesterday’s devotional).

You don’t have to put that pastor on a pedestal, or think that you have to hang on his every word, limiting your input to him and him alone. In fact, you may regularly take advantage of all the good teaching available today from such esteemed writers as Graham Cooke or R.C. Sproul or Andy Stanley or T.D. Jakes or Tim Keller or Joyce Meyer or John Piper or Beth Moore or Bill Hybels, just to name a few (!)

But as exciting and encouraging as these writers and speakers may be, they aren’t your pastor (unless they are pastors and you go to their church, of course). So don’t make them your pastor. By that I mean, don’t put their teaching in the place of the real-life person the Lord has put in your life. Learn all you want from them, but don’t submit your heart to them. The author has seen many a Christian make one of these people their pastor in essence, with their CDs and DVDs taking the place of the word God has wanted to give them through the pastor of their church. (These people also tend to have new “pastors” on a regular basis.)

There is also another pretender to the place of the pastor in our hearts. It’s what many of us call “the influencer.” Influencers are those people with obvious and observable leadership qualities who tend to draw people to themselves and away from the church. These folks always have something to say, especially in regard to things of the church and its leadership, and often organize events that compete with church services or small groups.

If someone listens to them more than to the church leadership, that influencer is their de facto pastor. The influencer would likely deny that, as would the person who is their follower. But that scenario exists in practically every church in existence. Don’t be that influencer—start submitting your leadership gifts to your church leadership!—and don’t be that follower.

The bottom line is this: Whoever you really listen to—that’s your pastor. We can relate to lots of different kinds of friends, and we can learn a great deal from books and CDs. But there can only be room for one pastor or leadership team in your life and heart. Give that place to the pastor or leadership team in your church.

Prayer: Father, help me to position myself rightly to my pastor. Help me not to place too much on my pastor’s shoulders, but help me to receive everything that you want me to through the leadership of my church. If I’m putting someone else in my pastor’s place in reality, please show me. Amen.

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