Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
If you have been a church goer, you will be familiar with these words of Jesus.
You have probably heard a minister, a pastor or priest preaching from this text. It is often used as an appeal for people to put their faith in Jesus and commit their lives to God.
The tragic reality is that it is often the preacher who is most in need of this text himself.
Do a Google search for “pastors burnout rate” and you will find the horrible facts.
- Why are huge numbers of pastors underpaid, neglected, mistreated and abused by professing Christian church members?
- Why do some pastors overreact by becoming religious dictators and spiritual control freaks?
- Why are so many pastors leaving the ministry?
- Why do so many preachers’ children give up Christian faith?
- Why do we so often hear of Catholic priests who abuse children?
The sad reality is that for close to 1700 years, Christians have fallen into a very damaging form of idolatry.
Priests and preachers have been elevated to a position which rightfully belongs only to Jesus.
Does this mean we should no longer have any full time preachers or church leaders?
I am not suggesting that. There were some full time preachers in the New Testament and God blessed them.
However, the enormous superhuman expectations we place on full time preachers are quite wrong.
In New Testament times, the apostles and some other preachers led the church but much of the work of ministry was done by the so called ordinary believers.
- So many Catholic priests are destroyed by the false expectations of celibacy and unlimited duty of service.
- So many sincere Christians are crushed by the unbiblical expectation that they should unconditionally obey human church leaders.
- So many pastors are destroyed by being expected to know everything, do everything and control everybody and everything.
I am not suggesting that we completely walk away from every known form of church organisation. Christian groups which do that often become exclusive religious cults which destroy people even more effectively than unhealthy traditional churches.
It is time for Christians everywhere to rise up and be what the Bible says we are, a brotherhood of priests and spiritual kings, respecting genuine full time preachers and working with them to extend the Kingdom of God.
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Acts 2:17 (NIV)
Inspired spiritual ministry is the calling of ALL believers.We must not unconditionally submit to any man on earth.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Matthew 23:8-9 (NIV)
On the other hand, we have no right to treat a pastor as an easy target to be exploited or bullied.
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 1 Timothy 5:17 (NIV)
The context shows that DOUBLE HONOUR does not mean unconditional obedience and submission to a separate and superior class of priests.