Church pastors are to teach, shepherd and protect the flock under their watch. The majority perform those tasks with diligence and integrity. Some seek to elevate themselves, but I have seen many of the sheep put their leaders on pedestals that are ungodly and unsustainable. The results are often disastrous.
The Old Testament contains many passages exposing the dangers and consequences of idolatry. Believers today often minimize or ignore the topic, because they do not understand the modern day connection.
One cannot serve God and Mammon (a spirit associated with money) because we will end up loving one and hating the other (Matt 6:24). There are other, more subtle, forms of idolatry and one involves our spiritual leaders.
“My pastor had an affair with a woman in the church and left his wife and family to be with her.” I have heard this refrain in various forms over the years. These episodes are traumatic for the individuals involved and for the Church. Some parishioners allow this event to derail their faith, and their walk with the Lord suffers for a season.
Of course, it is disheartening when one learns that a man (or woman) of God has suffered a moral failure. These accounts often capture more attention than in earlier times because of increased social media and internet exposure. When we allow these events to derail our walk, it is ultimately our fault, not God’s nor even the offending leader.
I have ministered to many pastors and church leaders and most truly have the heart to lead and nurture the sheep in their care. They have their own issues and are, like all Christ-followers, a spiritual work-in-progress also. They want to guide but not control. I find some do want to control in ungodly ways and have demonic strongholds at work in their lives that actively hurt their families and ministries. However, I find pastors like that not to be the norm.
We are honor those in authority over us, and the pastor (and elders) are the spiritual authority over the church. This is proper and biblical and must be carried out in a healthy manner and held in proper perspective.
I find that some Christians, because of their own issues, want to put their leader on a pedestal that leads to unholy behavior. It is often simpler to serve a leader than the Lord, because feedback and affirmation may be readily available if the leader is charismatic. The Christian walk may appear comfortable initially, but we cannot take our eyes of the infallible Chief Shepherd and put them on flesh and blood.
The demonic realm will co-operate with that fleshly desire so that excessive adoration, and ultimately a type of worship, can result. When we elevate any one person to a place of worship, the demonic realm simply needs to work to knock the recipient off the pedestal to cause extensive damage, including turning away from the one true God.
Is Your Pastor on a Pedestal?
Are you in the danger zone of putting your pastor up on that pedestal? Here are four questions to ask yourself:
- Do you find yourself fixated on him/her? Do you gush excessively to others about how wonderful he is? There is nothing wrong about sharing your pastor’s virtues with others, but is it over the top?
- Do you receive rejection if he does not treat you as you expect? Do you vie for his attention?
- Do you find that you frequently place meeting your pastor’s needs ahead of your spouse or family?
- Did your pastor’s fall into sin lead you to become isolated from the Body of Christ? It is okay to leave that church, but it is not good to separate from His church?
- Do you find yourself over-analyzing his every move? You may have personal issues that to address because the enemy has created a crack in your armor.
If you are off the narrow road that leads to life (Matthew 7:14), it is time to find your way back. You may need some biblical counseling or deliverance ministry, especially if there are ungodly soul ties involved that need to be broken.
Do not delay. Find help so that you can regain mental and emotional health and keep progressing on your journey with Jesus. He who perseveres to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13)!
In the next article in this series, I’m going to look at God’s word, the Holy Bible, becoming an idol for us. Stay tuned…
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