Desperate Pastors

Desperate pastors... the world is full of them.

How do you recognize them? One mark of the desperate pastor is that he (or she) chases people in order to "pastor" them. If you are waivering in your commitment to Christ, this pastor will call you repeatedly until you either return to the fold or politely -- or not so politely sometimes -- tell him to leave you alone. The desperate pastor gets jittery if he is not personally there to care for someone.

A second mark is that he will prop up ministries he thinks you will be interested in. He is like a private chef and a waiter, rolled into one. He will cook up anything you want and bring it to you on a gleaming platter. The desperate pastor leads by sticking his wet finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. If he thinks the flock wants it, he will provide it.

A third mark of the desperate pastor is that he will be seen everywhere the church meets. He is in every meeting, leading from the front, grabbing every bit of spotlight -- even if it means elbowing someone else into the shadows in order to occupy that part of the stage.

The bottom line is that the desperate pastor will do or become almost anything in order to enlist you in his endeavors. He will flatter you. He will cater to you. He will pursue you like a 16-year-old boy working to secure a date to the prom.

What all the signs of the desperate pastor hold in common is that he operates out of a well-disguised self-orientation. He pursues you, provides ministries, and grabs the spotlight because he wants you... for himself. He will couch his activities in religious language such as "leaving the ninety-nine to search for the one." But the desperate pastor is really working to make sure you stay in his (or her) ministry. He needs your loyalty. He needs your money. Somewhere along the line, the cause of Christ became intertwined with self-identity and job security.

I believe every pastor struggles to fight off the temptation to become the Desperate Pastor. Many pastors have given in. Many continue to fight. But all struggle.

I don't see Jesus as a Desperate Rabbi. He did not pursue people across hill and dale; he invited them to follow him. He did not offer an ever-widening array of attractive religious options; he told people that following him would cost them everything. He did not grab the spotlight; he proclaimed and enacted a message, and let the people come to him. In fact, Jesus often told someone to keep it a secret that he was the Messiah.

Here is the crux of the matter. Too many of us pastors go about gathering a following rather than becoming a person people want to follow. The Desperate Pastor manipulates people and gatherings. Why? Because he does not have a life with Christ that is attractive enough in itself. He has to rely on packaging and strategies.

The Peaceful Pastor lives with a sense of clarity and holiness that draws people like filings to a magnet. This is how I see Jesus. He lived with the utmost clarity and holiness. Those who could appreciate Jesus' perspective and way of living pursued him. And he cared for them. But rather than catering to them, he was more likely to say something like, "Come to me, you who are weary and heavy-laiden, and I will give you rest."

"Come to me"... have you ever noticed how many times Jesus said that?

Eugene Peterson writes, "I reflect: Who are the people who made a difference in my life? Answer: The ones who weren't trying to make a difference" (Unpredictable Plant, 55). How about being people who live with such clarity and holiness that we make a difference without desperately trying to? I think that is the kind of "easy yoke" that would fit us pastors well.

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