Don't make your pastor a god
There is a thin line today between honoring a vessel of the Lord and giving that individual worship that belongs to the Creator alone. The line is being crossed by many who don't even realize it. An alarming number of preachers are spending an enormous amount of time teaching how to respect them and give them financially lucrative lifestyles. More time is spent in pulpits telling congregants not to let any talk about the pastor than how to live for Christ. If the majority of what you are hearing each week is about your leader, you should be questioning why. Ministers of the gospel are supposed to be pointing you to Jesus and not themselves. Souls are the goal and not riches. If there is an extreme focus on how anointed your pastor is and how you should always be doing more for him, you are probably in a church where unwittingly, and inadvertently, you are making him your god. If you are being taught more about sowing seeds to bless the "mand" of god" than giving to the poor as Jesus commanded it's time to leave, Having to stand when the preacher enters a room or bodyguards/armor-bearers pushing people out of the way so the pastor can walk by implies importance when Christ said to be humble servants.
Wolves in sheep clothing
If your pastor isn't preaching salvation, the crucifixion of Christ, the resurrection and the second coming, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. I grew up in the Baptist church where every week the message led to a call for salvation and offered the opportunity for people to give their life to the Lord. This is the message that Billy Graham preached for more than 60 years. He told those in his services and the television audience to repent of their sins and give their lives to Jesus. If your church services are not leading sinners to salvation then your spiritual leader is definitely a wolf.
If you are being taught to seek your pastor's advice before you make major decisions, rather than seek the will of the Lord, be concerned. Are you hearing that members in the pew should not dress better, live in a more affluent neighborhood or drive a newer model vehicle than the preacher? This is man manipulating you to focus on him or her instead of Christ.
All about money
If you are hearing weekly messages about giving to your pastor so he can be rich and told you should increase your financial support, walk away. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (International version says; "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver". When you hear that you are cursed if you do not tithe, or that God won't bless you unless you give to your pastor above his salary, that's wrong. If sermons are more about the curse of not tithing than going to hell if you don't accept Jesus, you are not in a true Christian church. Jesus taught his followers to give to the needy, not to greedy men. When you hear that your pastor needs a Mercedes or has the right to live in a certain neighborhood, this puts your focus on the desires of your leader, rather than doing what pleases the Lord.
If you are being told you are not a good Christian unless you travel with your leader when he preaches, and you must give him extra money, cook for his family, clean his house and take care of all his personal needs that is not of God, A pastor should be a good steward of his salary just like you and me. If we cannot afford life's luxuries, we must go without. Asking the ministries/auxiliaries of the church to purchase expensive homes, cars etc. for the pastor that is greed,
If there are congregants living without heat or lights, or food or cannot purchase medication, these are needs that should be met. A pastor should not be expecting the congregation to purchase him a Rolex, or private jet when faithful members are in such dire situations. Should you be told that because your pastor is now an Apostle or Bishop he must have an increase in salary, or purchase more expensive clothing, that is idol worship of the man and his title.
I recall a church where guest preachers raised 10-20 thousand dollars in one service, 4 or 5 times a year by telling people that "God said" 10 people should give the pastor, $1000.00 and 20 people should give him $500.00 each. Church members who could barely pay their bills complied because they heard so many sermons on how we should treat the "mand of god." The church is not supposed to be a cash cow for the pastor and the pulpit was not designed to brag on any human.
I Timothy 2:5 tells us: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Unfortunately in any churches pastors teach that you cannot get to God unless you join their church, give them money above their salary and obey their every command. I recall a woman who worked in a church office. She said that even when she was hospitalized for surgery she had to have her cell phone on 24/7 to be at her pastor's beck and call. I thought of while watching a television show where a cult leader said those he takes into his inner circle must be on call to him 24/7. This is abusive and controlling because our Heavenly Father does not demand our every waking minute. He desires us to seek Him because we love Him.
If you find yourself no longer enjoying church and it seems like it has become the personal playground of your spiritual leader this is a red flag. If you are commanded to show your loyalty to your pastor, give him large sums of money and obey his every command, this is not biblical. If you are hearing that you should say what your leader says, and cannot read scriptures outside of what he teaches, he is a cult leader. Develop a personal relationship with Christ, and read His word outside of what your leader teaches. You should be sounding like Jesus and not your pastor. Your allegiance is to the one who died for your sins. Any minister teaching that you cannot access God without him is setting himself up as an idol, and idols fall.
I ran into someone who I attended church with decades ago and she said she made sure her pastor knew my husband had passed away. I informed her that the last two times my husband and I saw this pastor she looked right in our faces and did not speak. My friend began backing away from me and an ugly look came on her face as she told me that was not like her pastor. None of us is with any person 24/7 and if you are not with someone you cannot vouch for them. Too many churchgoers defend pastors when they were not in their presence to know what they did or did not do. Be careful and be balanced. Use wisdom and make sure you defend your faith in Christ as much as you do your spiritual leader.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Cheryl E Preston
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on February 02, 2020:
Yes it’s everywhere and many don’t realize they are falling prey.
OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on February 01, 2020:
Wonderful documentations. This is rampant today, such that people who write or talk about this are considered anti-christ in some instances. Good work!
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 23, 2019:
Some timely warnings for churchgoers who focus on the human leader more than the Spiritual Head. Thank you for addressing this issue.