I am a pastor. Whether I am impressive or not is not for me to say. (Let another praise you, and not your own mouth— a stranger, and not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2 HCSB)) But for someone who might want to say, it is reasonable for me to ask, “By what standard are you critiquing me? To whom are you comparing me? How will you decide whether I’m impressive or unimpressive? Will you decide by a set of objective characteristics or by your subjective impressions?”
There are pastors that are so impressive to so many that they have been raised up to a celebrity-like status in the church, and even in our society. Every time they take to the pulpit or take up their pens, thousands to millions of people are eagerly waiting for the next word they will speak or write. (As I’ve said elsewhere, some of them are deemed so quote-worthy that they could say “See Spot run,” and it would be plastered in memes all over social media.) Their ministry sphere of influence has gone national and global. Now, I am not begrudging them this joyful and fruitful season of ministry (except for the wolves in sheep’s clothing). It is not for me to decide how large their sphere of influence should be. Let God use them as He sees fit. (I am grateful to Him for how He has used Hanegraaff, MacArthur, Sproul, Piper, and Mohler in developing me.) But I am concerned about how enamored with them people in the church have become.
There is a global church, but there is not a global congregation. In building His church, the Lord is gathering His reborn and redeemed into local congregations, and He is calling pastors to care for and lead them at the local level. I am concerned about the extent to which the local ministries of simple pastors are being eclipsed by the social ministries of “celebrity” pastors. I can’t help but wonder how many people this very week have forgotten last Sunday’s messages from their own pastors while watching, reading, and posting the sermons, blog posts, and quotes of their favorite big-name pastors. How many people are constantly (perhaps even unconsciously) comparing their “small” pastors to their favorite “big” pastors - contrasting their appearance, pulpit presence, and preaching?
Maybe you are not too impressed with your pastor. Maybe he doesn’t light the room and your heart on fire. Maybe his preaching seems to smolder rather than burn for you. If that’s the case, I hope you will ask God to help you think about him with a fresh, biblical perspective on his place in your life. If God has truly called him, then He has called him to speak His Word into your life as one who lives with you and knows you - as one who will walk with you through the good and bad seasons and situations of your life - which will probably never be true of your favorite big-name pastor. Let me suggest that you take at least a month and listen to no one but your pastor. Freshly and prayerfully focus on his messages. Write down things he says that you can go back to later in the week - or even ask him for his sermon notes. Listen to your unimpressive pastor, and you might be surprised at how he starts to impress you.
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Let us aspire to understand the times and know what we
(1 Chronicles 12:32)