In my recent article Benevolent Lording Over I wrote about the issue of degree vs. kind on the topic of male supremacism. But today I’d like to write about it on the topic of pastor supremacism (see also How Not to Critique a Book). A good friend pointed me to a blog post called Self-Depreciating Narcissism among Christian Leaders, which prompted me to not only point others to it but also emphasize the points it makes that lend support to claims I’ve made in the past. Please read the post there, and remember that this is what outsiders to the churches see.
I know what some of you are thinking: this is an extreme example meant to make all churches/ministries look bad. But that objection only works if the principles underlying the church model are sound and Biblical. Is the elevation of personalities and charismatic leaders really only a problem when done in excess, or is even the slightest elevation a rebellion against Jesus’ command, “Not so among you”? Are some believers really “more equal” than others, even just a little? If so, then Paul didn’t write this in 1 Cor. 12:22-24—
Rather, those parts of the body that seem weaker are more necessary, and those parts that we consider nothing we actually treat with more respect. We cover our private parts but give them the utmost respect and care, while our “respectable” parts have no such need. So God assembled the body and gave the most vulnerable parts the greatest honor.
Clearly there are no “better” or more important “parts” in the Body of Christ. It’s very much the same principle as found in James 1:10-11—
The lowly should celebrate their greatness, yet the rich should celebrate their lowliness, being no more than garden flowers that quickly wilt.
And again in 1 Cor. 11:11-12—
In the Master, however, woman and man are not independent of each other. For just as woman came from man, so also all men have come from women ever since— but we all come from God.
Along with Jesus’ “not so among you”, the clear teaching of all these scriptures is that though we all have our specialties, none of us are to be elevated because of them. Are you an entitled “Pastor”? Are you therefore to be more respected and pampered and pitied than the volunteer church workers who pay your salary with their day jobs? If you can stomach it, take a look at this example of what its defenders would present as the opposite of the main article I’ve written about here:
October is pastor appreciation month. To show your pastoral staff appreciation (youth pastors, music pastors, children’s pastors, senior pastors, etc.), here are 10 things you can do. I have either had these things given to me or have seen them given to other pastors. Most of these things are monetary, because most of the pastors that I know could use help financially. Very few that I know make enough money to live comfortably.
From just that opening paragraph you can easily see the appeal to pity (and cash), and the elevation of the man (and in that site, they do mean only the MAN). This is how and where it starts. Oh, and the writer of that article is a pastor— a conflict of interest not lost on a few of the commenters on the article. Many of that site’s supporters of the elevated pastor are also pastors. It’s no different from politicians voting generous salaries and pensions for themselves, which even the lost see as corruption. (And by the way, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What a coincidence.)
In the comments of the main article we see another consequence of such teachings/actions, one that I’ve touched on before regarding “ex-Christians”:
my friends preacher states on sun morning when he wants extra money.
go home pray to god and let god decide how much you should give.
it works every time last week he raised 10,000 plus besides the regular sun morning take.
moral of story god is very generous with your money.
he also states god is with us today in church. hidden meaning of course if you are not in church god is not with you. god is not infinite thing just in church with you.
atheists are made not born and religion is the best atheist maker there is, scientism comes in a close second.
How many more souls have been repulsed by the crass and self-serving materialism/narcissism of “Pastors”? Is this to be excused by the claim that so many more are (allegedly) saved? Is the “exchange rate” acceptable? Even if the elevation is claimed to be minimal and coated with sixteen layers of flowery adjectives, it is still the very idea of some “parts” being more important than others that violates the very essence of what it means to be in Christ. Hierarchy is hierarchy regardless of the situation, and it has no place in the Body of Christ.