Through no fault of their own, other than being nice and actually reading, some people thought the post I wrote last week was a rant about being a young pastor. Oh, I could rant, but, perhaps, I went on a tad too much about the age thing and unintentionally led them that way. But it was in the context of a conversation about my young age that got me thinking about the real topic of that post. The post was about seeking respect.
Or maybe it was about priorities.
It’s worth bringing up again because of something I watched a couple of days ago. Sadly, I feel I must warn you that this video contains presidential election material. As such, before I continue and before you put any further bit of effort into reading, please excommunicate your politically inspired thoughts & tendencies long enough to appreciate the real topic I want you to consider.
++If you’re reading through email or news reader, click here to watch.++
Forgive me if it seems as if I am exploiting the pastor’s circumstances. I merely want to remind you, especially my colleagues and church leaders, how easily any of us can lose sight of what is truly important to the ministry God has entrusted to us.
To recap the relatable aspects of this story, the pastor featured in the video lied about particular areas of his academic and ministerial experience and training. By his own admission, here’s why he did so.
As a young man starting my church in Greenville, South Carolina, I overstated several details of my biography because I was worried I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a new pastor.
Sorry, he didn’t lie; he overstated >:(
Hopefully, you can understand why my last post included all the talk about age. What was this pastor, and, presumably, so many other young pastors preoccupied with? Not being taken seriously. Or, again as I wanted to convey before, getting the R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Now, I don’t want to assume this pastor was not kingdom minded. It seems ironic, however, to lie to your church so that you can be seen in a more respectable manner while preaching about the One who did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited (Philippians 2). If you’re building your church I suppose I could see why you might feel you need to do so. Christ’s kingdom, on the other hand, would not expect that from us.
Again, this is nothing new. Is it fair to suggest the disciples of Jesus wanted at least just a little bit of respect because of who they were lucky enough to hang around with? I think so. The right hand of Jesus is probably where the best snacks are, but it’s also a placing that would merit certain levels of respect from others….and it’s exactly where some of the disciples wanted to be.
And doesn’t the apostle Paul seem to maneuver into the pirated waters of Respect Me Bay? He brags, albeit while not officially bragging, about himself in hopes, maybe, his words might carry just that much more weight, like me on the weekends when I don’t exercise. At least, though, his holy showboating comes after he has already shared the gospel of Christ with those who would have first read his letters.
So, we’re back to the original topic. Not respect, but priority.
Of course, prioritize the kingdom of God in your daily walk with God. That applies to us all! The kingdom influences our relationships, our work ethic and our political motives. Well, I suppose it’s fair for anyone with a Facebook account to question that last one.
But especially you pastors, teachers and church leaders, please prioritize the kingdom of God in your preaching, teaching, leadership and ministry. You may be new (or young) at this, but the message is not. It can take care of itself. It doesn’t need you to have the respect of every parishioner. It only needs to be taught and lived.
Prioritize the kingdom in your sermons, in your planning and <gasp> even in your official reporting <gasp again>.
Never seek ye first the respect of ornery church folk. Not only does it mess up the song, but it’s also not all it’s cracked up to be anyways. Oh, and I suppose because Jesus is Lord, too.
P.S. For good or for bad, not once did I resort to tired Rodney Dangerfield “respect” reference. Good for me, right?