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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: August 9, 2023


There’s a common phenomenon in churches, generally of the Evangelical variety, where a pastor will build up a massive congregation over the course of a few decades. He’ll turn a little church into a megachurch where people are filing in and giving is high and glorious wonderful amazing things are happening left and right. Then he’ll retire or leave and the congregation will immediately fall apart. Everybody leaves and the mystique of success vanishes.


Of course, this also happens, albeit to a lesser extent, in normal sized churches when the new pastor doesn’t feel as comfortable as the old shepherd. So it is when the sheep stop seeing their pastors as shepherds and start seeing them as something else They convince themselves that the word of God is not sufficient, the sacraments are not sufficient. If they really want to grow in the faith, if they want to be fed, if they want to become the kind of people they want to be, they need a certain person who communicates a certain way and makes them feel a certain thing. And any pastor who doesn’t meet their standards isn’t worth their presence. So when the cult of personality thrives in the church, all this really tells us is that we don’t believe the Gospel. We don’t believe we’re poor miserable sinners whom God has graciously invited to receive the glorious kingdom we never could have earned. We believe we’re faithful laborers who deserve a guru who’s up to our standards. At least that’s how things go on the pride side. On the despair side, we conclude that we have to decipher the mystical, secret unknown needs we have that can’t be met by the word alone, that we need to find the perfect leader uniquely gifted to bring to life what the Word can’t sufficiently vivify.


And so Paul’s warning against this view of the pastoral office is one that applies to us today. The church is not Paul vs. Apollos or Paul vs Peter or Peter vs James or anything of that nature. The church is Jesus calling Paul and Apollos and Peter and James into His service to feed His sheep with salvation. The church is Jesus calling different men with different personalities to wash different sheep with different sins in the same salvation of the same Lord.


Some pastors plant. Some water. Some harvest. Some pastors you’ll adore. Some you’ll never quite bond with. That’s just the way things are. So be at peace, knowing that you don’t need to uncover the hidden secrets in order to find what you need. Don’t pit undershepherds against each other when they’re united under the same Good Shepherd. Don’t tell yourself that you need a certain man to give you that same salvation. God will choose the hands He uses to feed you. Eat.


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