With multiple pastors serving on the staff of a single church, and with thousands of sermons from hundreds of different preachers available to people through digital media, we run the risk of falling into a danger Paul addressed in the Corinthian church. That danger? Having a favorite pastor.
In my own ministry context, I am well aware of this phenomenon. While church attendees may try to be vague about it, there’s no mistaking when they’re expressing their pastoral preferences. Though it doesn’t come across as straightforward as, “I like you better than him,” or “I like him better than you,” we all know it might as well be said that brashly.
Having a favorite pastor was an issue faced by the church in the Corinth:
“My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ’” (1 Corinthians 1:11-12).
“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly - mere infants in Christ…You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings?” (1 Corinthians 3:1,3-4).
Do you see the issues? Christians in the church in Corinth were suffering from “Favorite Pastor Syndrome.” This was leading to quarrels, quiet back-biting, and disunity in the church. Paul charged those with “Favorite Pastor Syndrome” as being “worldly” and “infants in Christ.” “Favorite Pastor Syndrome” is characteristic of immature believers. Not a good thing!
While the mature Christian is appreciative of their gospel-preaching pastors, the conversation isn’t about which pastor they like the best. Instead, the conversation is about how their gospel-preaching pastors have helped them follow and love Jesus.
Paul’s conclusion on the matter? “…no more boasting about human leaders!” (1 Corinthians 3:21). Amen!
This sermon was given by Rev. Brian Dainsberg at Appleton Alliance Church on Nov. 29, 2015.
’Tis the season to be thankful. Thankful for family and friends, health and food, clothing and shelter. I enjoy Thanksgiving and the traditions it brings. But the thanks we offer around Thanksgiving has always struck me as a bit forced. Perhaps it draws out the cynic in me, but questions like: “are we really thankful for such and such,” or “shouldn’t we always express this kind of gratitude?” seem to creep into my thinking.
Obviously, thanksgiving is meant to be a staple in the Christian diet (Psalm 69:30; 95:2; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 5:4). In fact, the call for God’s people to be thankful occurs dozens of times in the Scriptures. Why so many?
To answer that question, I began to think about instances in my life when I was truly overwhelmed with gratitude. Then I noticed all those instances had something in common: I was the recipient of generosity I didn’t feel I deserved.
If being the recipients of undeserved generosity is what sparks gratitude, Christians should be the most thankful people in the universe! Maybe that’s why the Bible encourages so much thanksgiving from God’s people. Because, of all people, Christians know they are the most undeserving of anything good, but in spite of it are the recipients of God's overwhelming generosity!
Of course, this works in the opposite direction as well. Ingratitude conveys we think we are owed something. So if we get something good, we may not be grateful because we think we deserved it. Or if we don’t get what we think we’ve earned, it not only makes us ungrateful, but despondent. So when you think about it, ingratitude is really nasty and a symptom of a spiritually debilitating disease.
Grateful people are humble people. They recognize they aren’t owed anything. So when something good happens it leads them to express heartfelt thanksgiving. No wonder why the Bible calls Christians to be so thankful!