Oct 3, 2003
SheepTrax™ is an ezine of humor, insight, and Christian teaching, featuring the wit, wisdom and deepthinking of Bryan Hupperts. Please forward this message!
October 3, 2003
I’m not one to kick about numbers, but SheepTrax has several thousand pastors as subscribers all across the theological spectrum in addition to the rest of our subscriber base, which is considerable. As a former pastor turned writer, I try to be sensitive to the different positions that honest believers in Jesus hold to and I seek to honor those who live lives of Christian service. It’s a tough gig, err, calling.
One night, I was working on my “ministerial resume,” wrestling even how to create such a beast. What should I list, numbers of souls saved? Hours clocked in prayer and study? How about an essay about how I have proudly grown in humility? The more I wrote, the goofier the whole exercise seemed.
We base so much of the way we do ministry on the western corporate business model. We have a campus, and office, a secretary, et al, and could look pretty much like any business office in America. And we are in a business, the Father’s business. Even Jesus said, in Luke 2:49, “I must be about My Father's business." The vast difference is that we are in the people processing business.
We take raw materials, sinners, and, by the work of the Holy Spirit and our witness, change them to Christians. Then we help them along the highway of holiness walking in love and fellowship. Ok, knock down, drag out fights, too, but hey, we’re all learning, aren’t we?
Anyway, I was writing up my ministry resume and I came to the part where I pastored a small southern Missouri church. My title? Senior Pastor. Now technically there were no Junior, err, Associate Pastors on staff, but it looked good, you know, religiously impressive and powerful. Ah, Bryan Hupperts, Senior Pastor.
The peace that governs my spirit suddenly dissipated. A nauseating, uneasy queasy agitation arose that warned me something had violated my relationship with God. I began to pray and ask the Lord to show me.
Finally, in the familiar quite voice of his, I felt him ask, “How dare you?”
“How dare I what, Lord?”
“”How dare you take a prerogative that I have reserved for myself and usurp my authority in my Body?”
I gulped inwardly and asked for revelation. It came like a flood. He showed me that the title Senior Pastor is just another way of saying Chief Shepherd, a title that has reserved for himself alone. In 1 Peter 5:2-4 we are commanded, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (i.e.: under-shepherds); and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”
Whoops. I am called an under-shepherd, not a Chief Shepherd!
Authority in the kingdom of God is the power to serve, to be a servant. Many ministry titles in the Christian church sound so very ecclesial and importantly pompous, but all they really mean is servant, or better, busboy. Busboy? In he Greek, that’s what servant means. Try putting that on your ministry resume! Bryan Hupperts, Busboy. It lacks an air of importance and power. Egad! It reeks of humility! Yet if we adopted the term Busboy for spiritual servants, in no time at all there would be those who would assert themselves as the Headwaiter, or Maitre d'hotel!
Flesh never dies easy, does it?
Regardless of the capacity in which I am allowed to serve, I will never again call myself the Senior Pastor, the Chief Shepherd, again. Wait. Didn’t Paul call himself “Chief?” Oh yes, the chief of sinners! Since Jesus is the Head, I am now blessedly content to serve along side my fellow servants.
So how will people know who is in authority at church? That’s easy.
He’ll be the guy serving!
Wanna settle this controversy with the authority of the Bible? Read on. Mark 10:42- 43, “But Jesus called them (his disciples) to Himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant (your bus boy). And whoever of you desires to be first (Senior) shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’"
If there are any Senior Pastors out there, I lovingly suggest that you prayerfully consider ordering new business cards and stationary. Now pardon me, this bus boy has go and clean up some of the life messes made by a few erring saints. That’s what bus boys do.
Bryan Hupperts © 2003
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