“Did you hear the one about the minister, the priest and the rabbi…?” Chances are, so have most pastors. Preacher jokes are as plentiful as lawyer jokes. That’s OK. Some of them are truly funny. Pastors need to take the word of God seriously, not so much themselves.
What preachers see from their side of the pulpit can be comical too. Ask people to picture the perfect pastor and they might tell you he’s 30 years old and has 35 years of experience. He condemns sin but never hurts anyone’s feelings. He dedicates himself to the young people but spends all day with the elderly. He makes 15 visits a day and is always in the study working on his sermon. He has one brown eye, and one blue.
Ask some ministers to describe their calling and it is apparent they see themselves as CEO’s instead of shepherds, politicians instead of preachers, motivational speakers instead of Bible scholars.
Ask some parishioners and it is apparent that this is exactly what they want.
In his first letter to the Christians at Corinth, Paul sets forth the correct view on called servants of Christ:
“This is the way a person should think of us: as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. In this connection, moreover, it is required of stewards that they(1 Cor. 4:1-2 EHV)
What it means to be faithful to God is defined by the words Paul uses. Take, for instance, the word “servant.” Originally and literally the word referred to a guy who manned the oars below deck in an ancient war ship. If you’ve seen movies like Ben Hur, you may have a picture of this in your head, rows of slaves on benches pulling at the oars, while up front is this big, sweaty guy banging out the pace – slow or fast – on a sort of kettle drum.
By the time Paul used the word, this picture sort of fell away. But the word was still used for any kind of servant or officer who acted under the direction of another. To be faithful to God means we take our cue from Christ, we march to the beat of His drum, His Word.
Servants of Christ take their cue from Christ and rightly dispense God’s mysteries, that is, the gospel in word and sacraments. The thing God is looking for is that these stewards or trustees of God’s Word be found faithful.
What did God say to Jeremiah? “Let the one who has My Word speak it faithfully.”
This is not what many churches are looking for. Too many sheep today want a theology of a glory instead of a theology of the cross. They want stages instead of altars, entertainment instead of worship, motivational pep talks instead of law-gospel sermons, health-wealth-and-success leaders instead of poor-in-spirit pastors.
But such trendier-than-thou religious celebrities cannot, as one fellow put it, “lift the burden, break the chain, quench the passion, and reconstruct a divine manhood.”
Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can do that. God’s people will be blessed when their pastors remember this and stop apologizing for it. God wants faithful trustees of His Word, dependable workmen who rightly divide the Word of truth, the law and the gospel. ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant” is still the highest grade God gives.