Monday, July 25, 2011

Pastoral Authority

In 26 years of ministry I have witnessed the extremes of pastoral authority.

On one end of the spectrum is the pastor who has no authority.  This pastor functions as “hired help,” some sort of “organ grinders monkey” installed by a board that micromanages his messages and methods, leaving him feeling weak and unable to pursue his calling with passion.

The other extreme is the pastor whose authority goes too far.  This kind of pastor controls every detail of his congregant’s lives, even the kind of clothes they wear, the hairstyles they choose, or the movies they watch.  His control goes beyond what is Biblical.

Proper pastoral authority is Biblical and balanced.  This type of authority enables the pastor to accomplish what God has called him to do and nothing more.  Pastors are not supposed to have a vision for the life, career, and relationships of every person in his congregation; the people are supposed to have that for themselves.  What pastors should have is a vision for the work of God and enough authority to protect that work from derailment.

I have been challenged on occasion by those who, if given the chance, would have derailed what PCC has accomplished.  When necessary I have been very forceful with those seeking to damage what God has entrusted to me.

Pastors are beloved and well liked as long as we do what people want us to do.  The moment we don’t, our authority may be challenged.  But remember, we are not politicians elected to do the will of the people.  We are called to do the will and work of God.

We certainly don’t need dictator-types leading God’s people, but I believe God’s people are comforted by a shepherds rod and staff.  We protect the sheep from wolves that would destroy the flock.  We sometimes must wield the rod when it is necessary to chasten a disruptive troublemaker, or confront a gossiping church member.

Our model is Jesus Christ, who knew when to be a lion and when to be the lamb.

No comments: