Everyone loves to be appreciated. There is something deep in the human psyche that feeds on the kind words of others. This is true of everyone, but it can be a dangerous trap for a preacher. It can be a source of pride and arrogance. It can lead us away from God and not draw us into a deeper relationship with him.
I always enjoy hearing kind words, but let’s be clear on a few things.
1. Your pastor may work hard, but God gives the results. The Apostle Paul told the Church at Corinth that he planted the seed of the gospel, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow (1 Cor. 3:6). You may be a part of a Church that is growing, and new people are following Jesus, but it is not because of your pastor. Your pastor may be planting and watering as much as possible, but God is responsible for the growth of his Church. There is a temptation in ministry to give the preacher credit for what God is doing.
2. Your pastor may speak the truth, but his words are from God. Anything you hear that touches your heart and soul are the results of God’s Holy Spirit working in you and on you. The preacher is just a conduit to move God’s word from the written page into your life. Then God takes over and uses those words for his good. There is this temptation in ministry to give the preacher credit for what God is saying to you.
3. Your pastor may care about you, but God loves you unconditionally. Every preacher I know tries to care for the people in his Church and show them the love of Jesus. They visit, they go to the hospital, preach funerals, and they do everything in their power to care for the people God has given them to lead. These men are doing this as a reflection of the love God has shown to them. Pastors are trying to demonstrate the love God has for everyone. There is a temptation in ministry to equate the care of the pastor with the love of God.
4. You may like your pastor, but don’t build your faith on him. The most painful part of my life as a minister is watching what happens after I leave a Church. Some people stand firm in their faith, but other fall apart and quit. Usually, it is because they have come to see their preacher as the only person who could build their faith. There is this temptation in ministry to love the man of God you see every week and miss the God who holds it all together.
Temptation lies around every corner when you are a pastor. There is a temptation for a congregation to feed into the false views of religion that fuel a preacher’s ego. No Church leader in the world should be elevated above the calling God has placed on his life. He is just a pastor doing the work of God.
If you feel your pastor or preacher is a blessing to you, then thank God. Thank God for what he is doing through your preacher and ask God to keep using him. Ask God to keep the preacher firmly grounded in reality and to help us all to avoid the temptations of ministry.
I am glad to be a pastor, but I am more thankful for a God who loves us and died for us. He is the reason for you to have hope, peace, and love.