I needed to do a little teaching on this because of the recent occurrences that put a kind of distrust between Christians and Church leaders. For example, there are issues of a Pastor allegedly abusing a member or a Pastor allegedly defrauding the members and getting richer while the members are getting poorer and then people keep asking, do we need Pastors and other ministers? Do we need these leaders since we can sit at home, study God’s word and grow on our own? Do we keep subjecting ourselves to these manipulations by leaders? Why don’t we just break free from them? Another reason you may also feel a pastor isn’t needed is when you are convinced personally about something and most Pastors aren’t convinced about it like the issue of tithing, first fruit and the rest. So, the boiling question remains “do we need Pastors?”
First of all, we must note that every believer is a minister regardless of their calling, vocation and passion! The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:18
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
God didn’t just unite us with Himself, He also gave us a task to tell others who aren’t yet aware of what He is doing. This can take place in your office, in the school, in the mall, on social media and through various other means. You don’t need any kind of ordination to partake in this ministry and you may also not need anyone’s permission to preach Jesus to people. In this regard, I want you to understand that everyone could be preachers of Jesus but not everyone can be teachers. To preach in this regard means to advocate and proclaim about Jesus and the salvation He brings but to teach means to instruct and impart knowledge.
As believers and of course ministers of the gospel, we all need to always be skilled in the task given to us. That we have been called and given the ability to reconcile men to God doesn’t mean we have automatically mastered the craft. Therefore, we need people who can impart knowledge and instruct us by the direction of the Holy Spirit. While the Bible records that God has called us all into the ministry of reconciliation, the Bible also says in Ephesians 4:11
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,”
The Bible goes further to tell us why God has placed certain people in these offices which is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,” you see that? While God has called each and every one of us into the ministry but He has also continued giving people higher callings so that they can equip us to be able to carry out the work that God has given to us.”
The problem often lies in what we make up of this. God hasn’t given anyone special access to Himself more than He has given to every believer. God doesn’t answer the prayers of a Pastor more than He answers that of other believers, God doesn’t hear a Prophet faster than He hears other believers. The calling of these ministers isn’t to stand in between you and God and to receive from God for you. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:18
“Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”
Everyone in every status and orientation can come to the Father through the Spirit of Christ! The Bible never said we can come to the Father through any Pastor, Evangelist and so on. The outlined duty of these ministers is to perfect the Saints and they themselves are also perfected as they submit to the ministry of other Elders and the cycle continues. The Pastor is not called to take the place of Jesus in the lives of believers, He is called to actually explain what Jesus has done and how it can benefit the believer both in ministry and everyday application. It will be an abuse of Spiritual authority for ministers to actually take the place of Jesus in the lives of others.
In a sense, the Pastor is not called to be in control of the believers’ lives, he isn’t called to decide and take preeminence over the entire life of people. The duty of the Pastor is to give instructions, to guide and to lead. The model of leadership of Pastors isn’t that of a boss-staff relationship but servant leadership (John 13:13-16). The authority of a Pastor isn’t unquestionable and so is your loyalty to a Pastor. This is so because you must be able to draw the line in the case of when a leader stops leading you right. This is what the Bible means when it says in 1 John 2:27
“As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains on you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you the truth. But since his anointing teaches you about all things (it’s true and not a lie), remain in relationship to him just as he taught you.”
The Bible wasn’t saying you shouldn’t be taught by other people rather you should be able to discern what you are being taught when you maintain a firm relationship with Jesus. As much as a Pastor has been anointed to lead and equip you, it is Jesus that works through him or her and when anyone restrains the Holy Spirit from working through them and therefore goes on to teach and act by their flesh, you can always know when to step out if you are in a strong relationship with Jesus. One way this happens is to continue meditating on God’s word and allowing the Holy Spirit to shed more light on the word. John never wrote the above to discourage people from being taught, he was enlightening them concerning the false teachers and there is no way we can discern the truth if we only end up listening to Pastors without having to go back to Jesus to make things very clear for us.
One example we find in the Bible is these group of people referred to as the Berean Jews (Act 17:11). These were Jews who lived in the city of Berea in Macedonia and the Bible records that each day Paul comes to them to teach them the word, they receive these words with the readiness of mind! They don’t receive it with contempt but with joy and gladness but one thing about them is this; after Paul finish teaching them, they would go back home and start searching their scriptures and perhaps reading those places Paul quoted to really understand and discern if Paul was teaching them the truth. They were referred to as noble people because of this attitude! These kinds of people will not be tossed around by every wind of doctrine.
Pastors are no more special than you are and they are not more spiritual than you are but the truth is that whenever God calls these people, He also strengthens them for the task! Their commitment to what they have been called to do will help make you a better Christian and it will help make you serve better. They are authorities in their field which doesn’t mean they are superior to you as a believer. While we are all believers and equal in Christ, you must acknowledge the authority of their office so that you can receive of them and grow in maturity. It is God using them to make you better and sometimes to train you so that at the right time, you may also be called into that capacity.
If you are very skilled in a certain career, you would become an authority in that career in the sense that many people who want to venture into that career would always come to you for training, counsel and coaching. In the same way, some Pastor has become really very skilled in their ministry that may demand you to seek their counsel and teachings as regards to Spiritual matters to some degree. Because their calling is to perfect you for the work of the ministry, the area you always need their counsel is that which has to do with the work of the ministry.
You may not need a Pastor to make a career choice for you, you may not need a Pastor to choose a spouse for you, you may not need a Pastor to counsel you in marriage and relationships, you may not need a Pastor to coach you in business and academics. We never saw such in the Bible because these things have nothing to do with their calling as Pastors. However, you may need their opinion in these things if you perceive that aside from the calling they already have that they possess wisdom in these areas either through experience or professional studies. There are medical doctors who eventually became Pastors, therefore you could leverage on their medical expertise too but that doesn’t mean that once a person becomes your Pastor, he begins to rule every area of your life. Pastors are not rulers, they are basically teachers and leaders.
You should always be able to know where to draw the line in listening to a teacher. No matter how many times you have listened to a Pastor, always develop the habit of going back to the scriptures and asking the Lord to confirm His words. Not because you don’t trust Pastors but because you know they are just like you and they can communicate their personal views out of excitement and it doesn’t make them fake except when they are consciously leading people astray and teaching things that are alien to the body of Christ. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:14
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
Your Pastor can be wrong and he can go astray. You shouldn’t go astray with him.
Having known the call of a Pastor, it is also very important to know that Pastors are not superhuman and you shouldn’t make them one by treating them as one. The best behaviour of a Pastor is not what you see on a Sunday morning and you shouldn’t expect perfection from them just as you aren’t physically perfect on your own. It is true that ministers of the gospel should be of good reputation but every Christian should be of good reputation too as we are all ministers. Pastors are first of all human and normal people just like you! This is why it is important that you channel your loyalty to the vision they carry and most times, not necessarily their personality. This will help you to still stick to the God-given vision even when it seems they aren’t running in it again themselves. No matter how much a Pastor know, don’t always believe they automatically practice all of it without some efforts.
The reason you should know that Pastors are normal people too is so that you don’t fall off the cliff when they mess up and so that you do not judge the body of Christ with the character of any Pastor. In fact, when a Pastor messes up, it doesn’t mean the vision they are running is flawed, it means they are also naturally flawed men who must strive to live in harmony with the workings of God in their Spirit. You get hungry, they also get hungry! You feel sick sometimes, they also feel sick. You lack at times, they also lack! The call for honour isn’t a call to be overtly controlled by the Pastor, it is a call to acknowledge their office and what God is doing with them. You can’t receive so much from who you despise.
A Pastor shouldn’t present himself as better than those committed to him and he should be accountable to the body of Christ. The Pastor isn’t assistant Jesus and if there would be anything like that, every believer will equally occupy that position but we are something more than that. It is also important that in following your Pastor, you follow him not because you trust his person but because you trust the one who called him into that office. You don’t follow anyone blindly and when you notice some attitudes about a Pastor that isn’t godly or that may put you in danger, trust your instincts and avoid him.
So is there a way you could stay without a Pastor? Is there a way you can start quitting fellowships and it wouldn’t matter? Should you quit Church because a Pastor erred? Well, I understand from the Bible that Pastors are given for training, they train us to be able to become effective ministers. By this, you should belong to an assembly with Pastors where you are taught God’s word and if anything should make you consider leaving that assembly, you should look for another Bible-believing and Bible-teaching assembly. The essence is growth and therefore you still need a Pastor! Pastors may err, don’t err with them and don’t even endorse it. Concerning habitual sinning elders (Pastors) the Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:19
“Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others.”
Pastors occupy very sensitive positions just like every leader anywhere in the world and therefore they can easy targets to blackmails and accusations. However, the Bible says that when an accusation is made, it should be investigated and confirmed. Nobody is above training, correction and rebuke including the Pastors. This should tell you more that Pastors are just like you and may have issues just like you but because of their position and influence, they should exercise a great deal of discipline.
That one Pastor messed up doesn’t mean all Pastors mess up! There are still people who didn’t force themselves into that role, men who are still morally sound and sincere in carrying out the task given to them by God! Not all Pastors have bowed down to the trend, not all Pastors want to defraud you and not all Pastors play emotional and manipulative tricks on women. There are still genuine people carrying out the divine assignment. As long as you are following Christ, as long as you are following the vision Christ has given to men who can also err, you shouldn’t be deterred by their wrongs because your eyes aren’t on them but on Jesus.
~ George O.N