I was sitting in the parking lot of Weis Market the other day while waiting on my daughter to finish her speech therapy. I opened my Bible to Mk. 6:4 and was reading the story of when Jesus returned to his own city to minister. It says that because of their unbelief, He could do no miracles there. And the the Lord spoke to me and said, "familiarity breeds contempt." Now that is one of those "good ole sayings" from my childhood that were amongst the many my parents often said to my stubborn, deep sighing ears, but on this day, it made perfect sense.
(I had just been reading some posts on a Pastor's wife group the night before and the questions had been asked if a congregation can affect the anointing of a Pastor and if a Pastor can be "best friends" with people in the congregation--two highly debated issues amongst those in ministry. )
I began to think about it and ask why it was that Jesus could do no miracles? Of course, I know it said unbelief, but what caused the unbelief? Hadn't they heard of His exploits other places--surely they had! Don't you think they would be honored and proud that a lowly carpenter's son from their town had made it big? This must have gone through Jesus' mind too because it says that "he marveled at their unbelief."
And then it hit me. They could not separate the man from the ministry. He was "common" to them.
Now being a Pastor's wife, I know a wee little about this. My husband is also my Pastor. This can be one of two things. Either a great blessing or a great hindrance. Fortunately for me it has been a tremendous blessing. The most valuable gift the Lord has given me as a Pastor's wife is the grace to realize this and to be able to discern when my husband is speaking to me as a Pastor and when he is speaking to me as a husband.
I am familiar with my husband. He is the one "staple" in my life, outside of Christ. I can identify with him on so many levels. I am very relaxed around Him and can laugh, tease, choose to disagree-respectfully, of course, and debate with him. But when he speaks to me as a Pastor, I must receive what he is saying and respect the gift of God in him that is gracing him to speak to me. (Frankly, the problem before I learned to do this was just a rebellious heart, which made submission on any level hard.)
So here we have a whole town full of people. Surely Jesus had a special fondness for them. He had grown up with them. Many of them had ministered to him and helped him as a boy. Perhaps some of them even helped his parents find him when he stayed behind in Jerusalem as a boy. And now he was returning home to minister to them, to help them, as they had done for him. How disheartening it must have been for him to be rejected to the point that he could do very little for them. "A prophet is not without honor save in his own country and his own house." Mt. 13:57
The problem was not that they affected his anointing. He was still the same Jesus, the same Messiah, the same miracle worker that He was everywhere else He had been. But in their minds they saw Him as a common man. They could not see past the natural man into the spiritual man. This caused unbelief and limited the ability of Christ to work on their behalf, thus confirming their misguided belief that He was not the Messiah and excluding themselves from His ministry. Their lack of faith did not change Him but it did tie His hands because it violated the one principle that needs to be present to receive anything from God--faith. They had effectively cut themselves completely off from God's supply line.
Now let's bring this into where we live. We all know that spiritual leadership is common man--we're all human. And most of us are glad of this! The problem can come when we are allowed to get close enough to spiritual leadership to see their humanness and are disappointed when we realize that they aren't perfect. Perhaps if we become too familiar with spiritual leadership, when we allow ourselves to think of them in common ways, when we see the ways in which they are human, we then tie their hands in ministry, not because they are not able or capable to minister, but because of our unbelief that comes for the same reasons it came to the people of Jesus' town. If we only choose to view spiritual leadership from a natural perspective, we discount that they have a grace, a special ability, calling, and anointing from God that enables God to use them to minister to us. We bring them down to our own level. We make the shepherd a sheep and he becomes "common" in our sight--just one of the boys.
Indeed, men gifted in the 5-fold ministry are not common, but have a special grace given to relatively few believers. And perhaps the reason that many ministers stay aloof to a degree from the congregation is so that the temptation and tendency to make him common in their sight will not limit him in being able to minister to them as he is commanded and commissioned by God to do. This is not a comfortable thing for a Pastor to do. A Pastor is a people person. His desire is to know people for the purpose of helping them, but if he knows that people will then only see him as the natural man that he is, he has to keep himself aloof, so that he can fulfill the purpose of God which is why God brought him to them in the first place. So he is put in a position to have to guard his ministry at the expense of having close friends. That is why many in ministry complain of it's loneliness.
So, since Pastor's appreciation month has just passed, here are a few simple things that we can all do to make sure that we appreciate our Pastors correctly all year through.
1. Determine in yourself that your Pastor is someone you need. Otherwise, God would not have put him in your life. You are a sheep. Sheep are dumb and NEED a shepherd in order to survive. You need your Pastor to grow and survive as a Christian in this wilderness we call a world.
2. When you Pastor starts cleaning or tending to, or feeding you from pastures you don't find palatable, remember that He has received his training and instruction from the Great Shephard whom appointed him to tend to you, and receive it from him the same as you would if Christ Himself was the one speaking. Most church folk are respectful to their Pastor, but sometimes are not respectful OF him. I know he would prefer you to be respectful of him rather than to him, if he had to pick between the two. It's like the story in the Bible of Father who told his sons to do something. The one said he would and didn't. The other said he wouldn't but later repented and did it anyway. Which one did the will of his father? The one who repented and did what his father had asked.
3. Guard your heart from allowing the humanness of your Pastor to cloud the spiritual man, thus hindering his anointing from doing it's proper work in you. The clouding of the spiritual man will foster unbelief in you and go much further than just damaging your relationship with your Pastor. It's an open door for pride, and a fall.
4. Realize that even if your Pastor does make a mistake, your willingness to submit and obey to his direction because it is commanded by God, will be blessed by God. (I'm not talking about sin here. I'm talking more about trying something that is ineffective in ministry, something new that you're not sure of, or maybe something that was tried before and failed the first time.) God always blesses a submitted heart as long as that heart is submitted to another because it is submitted to His Word.
5. PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR!!! It keeps your heart tender towards him and helps him hear from God as to how to minister to you. I am amazed at the number of people who think that their Pastor doesn't need prayer because he's already spiritual. But when he does have a problem or makes a mistake or seem to have no direction, they are shocked and appalled and can't understand why. Remember, your Pastor is human, just like you!
6. Honor your Pastor all year long by praying for him, listening to him, trusting him, and obeying his direction. A short note every now and then affirming his ministry wouldn't hurt either! :-)