Addictive Love: Pastor on a Pedestal

In this age of celebrity worshiping, it is not surprising that some pastors have been elevated to idol status. They too ride in the limousine with darkened windows. They zip across the country in extravagantly appointed planes. They are followed by a hoard of hang-ons. Their homes, pictures, clothing style, and opinions drape the pages of magazines and the internet. Some write books, create television programs about lifestyle concerns like dieting, dating, marriage, and investments. These pastors have bought into the “me culture.” They have become addicted to the adulation of adoring fans. Adoring fans have placed them on a pedestal from which one day they will knock them off. For those who gave in to the veneration is it possible to be humble with all the flattery that comes their way? Can they quell the idolization? Are they responsible for directing that veneration toward God and not themselves?

Humility is a difficult horse to ride. To say your profession is one appointed by God already sets you into the field of admiration. How can an admired pastor get a toehold on humility? One way is to pass the glory on to God and your many partners that help you get to where you are. God may have called you to lead His people, but He has also surrounded you with a team to help accomplish your mission. If you cannot share the glory, if you cannot humble yourself, that lack of humility will become your stumbling block. Humiliation is a constant companion of humility.

To take God’s glory as your own will lead you down a path of self-destruction. Narcissism will invade your every thought. Extensive use of the pronoun ‘my’ will become a conspicuous part of your vocabulary. My church, my ministry, my people, my choir, and my deacons are how you will describe the essentials of your world. Taking the glory that belongs to God is a surefire way of losing your grip on meekness.

Place a pastor on a pedestal, exalt, wait upon, and adore him, meekness will disappear and arrogance will take over. Even though some will deny it, there are Christians that want their pastor to become a celebrity. They want the vicarious pleasure they get from the spotlight that fall on the pastor.

(Let me insert an editor’s note here. The majority of worshipers are not afflicted by the malady of pastor worshiping. And, this disorder is not restricted to Christians, religious adherents everywhere are apt to idolize their leaders. Mullahs, gurus, witch doctors, and pastors must strive hard to lower the noise of adoring fans.)

For some pastors this will be difficult since they have become little popes within their mini kingdoms. Worshipers believe their leaders are the key to salvation and to eternal life. They elevate her to a level that belongs to Christ. Is the pastor the only one responsible for maintaining the proper relationship? Where is the balance between respect for the office and idolizing? The worshiper must assume some responsibility. If the pastor is too busy to return your call or they want you to believe that your salvation comes from them; it is time to question that relationship. Somehow, pastors must use that special relationship they profess to have, as one called by God, to teach and direct their followers to not make idols out wood, stone, gold, or flesh.

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