The portrait of Christian leaders has dramatically shifted in recent years. Many pastors have gone from humbly leading small congregations in the backwoods of rural towns to swooping up to multimillion dollar church compounds on Sunday morning in $250, 000 cars. Church servants rush to open their car door, feverishly shielding them from the falling rain, careful not to muss their new Italian suit from Neiman’s. After preaching 2 or 3 ear-tickling and flesh-tantalizing sermons, they whisk away to travel cross country for more of the same – bypassing commercial aircrafts for a jet with their own private logo. Is this what shepherds of the gospel have become?
After hanging with Jesus for a while and becoming a part of His sweeping fame, some of His disciples debated amongst themselves who would be the greatest. They were electrified by the popularity associated with all His miracles, and wanted their names to be remembered. But Jesus shut that down and rebuked them. In the Gospel of Mark He said:
“…What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road? But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” –Mark 9:33-35.
Pastors have one of the highest honors on earth. To preach the gospel to a dying world and shepherd a flock of souls to lead them to salvation. That is an enormous privilege. Nowhere in Scripture does God promote an opulent, ostentatious lifestyle for teachers or preachers of His Word. Pursuing and gaining riches by ministering the gospel turns preaching into a commodity. There are non-believers of Christ who turn their ears away from hearing a preacher’s message because they cannot get past all the glitz and glamour they crown themselves with. This is saddening.
God’s kingdom work should be handled with such grace and humility that none of “us” should ever want to be seen. Every ounce of our strength should be to promote Jesus Christ as the only superstar. The prophets and apostles of the Bible toiled for the faith in harsh, sometimes impoverished conditions, all for the furtherance of the gospel. If the Apostle Paul were to live in this day, and be offered a private jet to make his ministry easier I believe he would repeat what he already said:
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ … Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” –Philippians 3:8, 4:11