The Hijacked Calling of Pastoral Ministry

If you were to look at the library of most pastors, you would likely find a LARGE selection of leadership books by authors like John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, Andy Stanley, Bill Hybles, Tony Dungy, George Barna, and many others.

All of these authors have some wonderful things to say about being an effective leader.

They talk about everything you have ever wanted to know about vision casting, crafting mission statements, developing effective communication skills, handling conflict resolution, growing your organization, and motivating people to follow you... all very interesting stuff.

The problem is, most of it has nothing to do with the Biblical portrait of what a pastor is and what he does.

But that hasn't stopped a large cottage industry consisting of publishers and consultants from popping up all over the place, and creating their own niche market, and telling pastors that these things are part of their calling.

As a result of creating this specialized market, pastoral ministry has been morphed into something it was never meant to be. Without realizing it, many who feel called to be a pastor have had their callings hijacked in the process.

Instead of answering the call to pastoral ministry, many have been steered into the job of becoming the CEO/President/Director of an organization instead.

And notice, I said "organization," not "church." Sadly, many cannot distinguish between the two.

Organizations need CEO's, HR departments, lawyers, bylaws, staff, vision, mission statements, strategic branding, goods and services, advertising, customers, fund-raising, profit and loss statements, and balance sheets.

In contrast to this, the New Testament sees the church as less like an "organization" and more like a "family" unit.

Family units consist of parents, brothers, and sisters. They are the people you regularly do life with, and do things like eat dinner with. And while they may need to conduct some formal "business" with one another every now and then, by in large, the family unit thrives and centers around the personal relationships that each member of the family has with one another.

It is in the context of family that the "leaders" of the New Testament church are designed to function. As a result, the leaders of the New Testament church function more as parents than as CEO's. And the idea of using the organization leadership principles of guys like John Maxwell should seem a bit misplaced to us as a church.

Individuals like the apostle Paul thought of himself as a spiritual "father" and his converts as his "children." Paul referred to the leaders he appointed in the churches he established as "elders," or literally "older one's."

These "older one's" were qualified for pastoral ministry because they showed spiritual maturity in their everyday lives, and knew what it was to be men of good reputation in the community, and knew how to take care of their own wives and children. They were able to teach others what it meant to be a Christian, and to demonstrate that in the way they lived their lives.

They were picked as leaders, not because they held impressive academic and professional credentials, but because they were "seasoned" Christians who knew how to live the Christian life well, and were gifted in their ability to show others how to live life like they themselves lived, in the imitation of Jesus Christ.

They preached, not as gifted orators, but as fathers teaching something to their sons. They provided leadership, not as CEO's, but as men who were showing their virtues and behaviors as something worthy of honor and imitation by all who had the opportunity to interact with them in their lives.

And in doing all these things, as fathers instead of CEO's, they fulfilled their calling to pastor the church of God.

Their calling in essence was very simple. They didn't need abstract crash courses on being effective leaders of a large and dynamic institution. Indeed, most probably were not equipped for such a thing. They just needed to know how to live a Christian life, and how to effectively be a dad to those who were entrusted to their care.

If they were good husbands and fathers, then they were viewed as men who could potentially help lead the family of God. For in leading their families, they had all the knowledge and skill necessary to effectively oversee the life of God's family.

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