Perhaps there is no greater challenge for a pastor than when your authority as a leader is challenged or when challenges is the
subject of this instruction, and it has to do with you personally. My prayer here is that you will have ears to hear and a heart to
receive this good word from God.
Some really good counsel I heard years ago came from a wise older minister who had been in the trenches of ministry for over 50
years, and of course we all know to listen to such people and glean the wisdom they possess. His admonition to the class of
would-be pastors was simple, yet quite profound. He simply said, “Pastors, it is not about you.” His explanations to this statement
were sparse, but all in attendance clearly understood what he meant as he expounded further. This is also a word for you and for
me and for all who shepherd the flock of Jesus and lead His Church.
What was this learned man really saying? He was both warning and guiding those who would follow him in ministry. The warning
was obvious. Anyone who has been in leadership for very long will attest to the fact that it is sometimes difficult to remain humble
because of your high profile. Those under your charge tend to praise you and to lift you to levels of respect or admiration beyond
what is right. It is good that you as a pastor receive double honor according to the Bible; however, the way in which you react to
that honor can be dangerous to your spiritual well-being. Never, ever receive the adoration from the crowd as your own. They
mean well when they tell you how good your sermon was or how they are impressed with your leadership of their church;
however, there is deadly poison at hand to the one who absorbs these compliments and who elevates himself to himself. We call
this condition PRIDE. Be advised in this regard. The right thing to remember is that you must learn to deflect the accolades of men
and clearly direct them to Jesus; the One who is responsible for what is going right.
Not only were these words a warning, but they were intended to guide these young pastors in a way so as to avoid the pitfalls of
pride. After all, it is far better to know where the holes in the road are than to know how to get out of them once you have fallen
in. He was telling them where the holes are. This was accomplished by establishing a clear doctrine of humility in them early on,
long before the temptation to fall into pride presented itself. The admonition is this: remind yourself often that Jesus is the
reason for your success. It is not about you. Drill it into your thinking until no compliment that is given to you can possibly be
absorbed into yourself. I will tell you that this level of humility takes an all-out effort employing the power of Romans 12:1-2 – it
takes a constant renewal of your mind. This should be one of your usual pastoral duties.
GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU.
The plan of God is to elevate you, Pastor, so you can elevate Jesus in the eyes of all men. That is the way Kingdom leadership
works. But, it is not about you. You are simply a tool that God uses. It is about Jesus. Everything you do is about Jesus. Look at it
like this: God uses you to draw attention to Him. He does this through your words. He does this through your successes through
faith. He does this through your demonstrations of His power that flow through you that exhibit the resurrection power of Jesus
Christ. But He must be able to trust you to deflect the praises of men and walk humbly before Him. REMEMBER: The level of
humility you attain to will determine the levels of power and success you will achieve in ministry.
The design of God is abundantly clear in that He made the choice to use fallible man to lead His Church. Jesus is indeed the Head
of the Church, but He has commissioned folks like you and me to lead it. This presents a potential problem. The problem is called
flesh. Your flesh will desire the good feelings that accompany the spotlight in your pulpit. Your flesh will desire more and more
“respect” from those who are ministered to. Your flesh will begin to measure pulpit time by the responses of the crowd rather
than by the fruit that was produced. Your flesh will move you from a servant mentality to a ruler mentality, and thereby expect
others to serve you rather than you doing what Jesus taught you, which is to be a servant of all. Flesh will cause you to act and
think and speak in ways that in no way look like Jesus; and, after all, imitating Jesus is what your ministry is all about, Pastor. It’s
not about you. It is about Jesus.
You have been separated for Kingdom service and anointed by the Holy Spirit to carry out the work to which you are called.
However, your calling and anointing do not automatically cast off those human, carnal proclivities you possess as a mortal man.
That is why it is of utmost importance that you take care – great care - to rule over your flesh so it will not hinder the work of God
and His divine plan for ministry through you. I again point to the method noted in Romans 12:1-2. Therein is your key to success in
I have spoken about this revelation before, but in this particular study it is so very applicable, so please indulge me. This has to
do with our own identify as a pastor. The day came when the Lord taught me the importance of my ministry office and its priority
over my own name. This revelation came about after a Sunday morning worship service when a visitor approached me in the
foyer. He asked me if I preferred to be called “Pastor”, “Reverend”, or “Randy.” My answer was intended to be a humble one, “Oh,
it makes no difference to me; I am not hung up on titles.” I was later chastised and instructed by the Holy Spirit for making that
The lesson learned that day was that it does matter how people address me, especially those under my spiritual charge. I was
instructed to teach my people the need to call me “Pastor.” This was not meant to elevate me in any way, but rather to do just the
opposite. It was to be a constant reminder that I was sent to serve God’s people and that He had installed me as His leader to
carry out that servant-hood. There is an element of respect and honor in such a greeting, and that is good; however, this is one
of those areas to be cautious in. Psychologists tell us that our own name is the sweetest sounding word to each of us. It denotes
who we are and is particularly sweet when someone else knows our name. Perhaps this is why the Lord needed for this servant
to set my own identity aside and assume His ministry office title in its place. Your own identity must be a reminder of your calling
and service to God, not something that elevates you in your own eyes. I admonish you to walk humbly before the Lord, for after
all, it is not about you.
Have you ever been preaching along only to discover that you were being led by the audience? I have. It was not my intention,
but unwittingly their responses were subtly leading me along a path that was different than the one God had planned. I am so
grateful I have a Teacher! The Holy Spirit lovingly showed me what was happening. My “need for acceptance” from people was
driving me to say what they wanted to hear, and even more importantly, it was diverting me from speaking the truth to them. Can
you see where subconsciously it was about me? It is not about me! Whether anyone in the congregation likes me or likes what
God has to say, must be of no consequence to me as His mouthpiece. It is not about me. It is about Him and what He desires to say
to His saints. Pastor, it is not about you either in your pulpit. Preach and teach exactly what you told to preach and teach. Give no
thought to yourself in the matter. Humbly obey God and you will experience the glory of God in your church. Hallelujah.
We have looked at several different areas within your ministry in which pride can surface. There is yet one more area that I feel is
worthy of our attention in this brief study, and it has to do with those to whom you minister.
Once again I draw from personal experience in order to show you the way not to go. The first church Kay and I were assigned to
by the Holy Spirit was just adjacent to the hood. It was a rough part of town to say the least. In fact, for a couple of young
suburbanites who had never known hardship or poverty it was a real challenge. We have spoken about it in latter years as “those
early years on the mission field.”
My eye-opening experience came the Sunday morning when we were privileged to have our first millionaire visit the church. As I
walked from the back building where my office was to the sanctuary building I noticed the new Mercedes parked amongst our
usual cars: a Rambler station wagon, multi-colored pickup trucks, and dilapidated old Chevy’s. In a flash I felt good about the fact
that this luxury automobile was outside our church. It made us look good. What did not occur to me at the time was this flash of
feel good was actually nothing less than pride.
I could not for the life of me understand what prompted this man of great wealth to come to our humble, little church, but here he
was. His family dressed well, so it upgraded the overall look of the congregation. And his money fattened our bank account which
enabled us to do more and be more than before. He and his family were wonderful people who loved Jesus, and we were glad
they were a part of our church family for a season.
The fact of the matter is that whether there are shiny, new Mercedes or old beat-up Chevy’s filling your church parking lot, it
should make no difference in how you view yourself or your church. If it does, if it makes you feel a little more stable or a little
more attractive to potential church members, then you need to take a long hard look at your heart. Remember: it’s not about you,
Pastor. The value to God of each and every attendee sitting there in your sanctuary Sunday morning is not measured by his
financial statement or by his social status or by any other carnal measurement. God loves each one equally and He is equally
interested in lovingly ministering to each one. So it must be with you. When your ministry is not about you, you will not have
thoughts of favoritism or elitism. That is when God will be able to visit your worship services with power and He will demonstrate
His power and Jesus will be glorified.
Admittedly, there is so much more that I have to learn about the ministry. But one thing I can declare to you is this profound truth:
In the equation of ministry the less there is of you, the more there will be of Jesus. This is all about Jesus. It is not about you.
Be blessed in your Kingdom service.
|Pastor, It Is Not About You!