the weblog of Alan Knox

But he has an MDiv and ordination papers…

Posted by on Apr 4, 2012 in discipleship | 3 comments

But he has an MDiv and ordination papers…

Jamal from “illuminate” has written a very good post called “Please Pray For Our Elders…” It goes along very well with my previous post “The dangers of ‘pastoring’ hundreds or thousands.”

But, in his post, Jamal tackles head-on something that I only intimated in my post: simply giving someone a title or position as “pastor” or “elder” or something else in an organization (even a church organization) does that mean that the person is actually shepherding or is actually mature in his walk with Jesus Christ.

Jamal writes:

These precious saints who ask me to pray for their ‘Elders’ are frustrated because their ‘Elders’ (wise ones in the faith) are not really wise in the faith. I want them to realize that putting a descriptive term like ‘elder’ (one who is wise in the faith) upon a person who is not wise in the faith makes no sense. Instead of being frustrated with these people, simply see them for who they are, and who they aren’t.

I want these precious saints to realize that if someone is not ‘wise in the faith,’ they are NOT an elder even if they do carry the job description or title of ‘Elder / Pastor.’ Simply realizing this could free many from being held hostage to a system or organization led by a set of ‘unwise’ people who carry the title of being ‘wise.’ After all, the title of ‘elder’ does not make a person ‘wise’ in the faith.

The problem is not really with these unwise ‘Elders,’ rather the problem is with the people who think the term ‘elder’ refers to some type of ‘office’ that carries a hierarchical weight that is separate from the person itself. This is foreign to the New Testament. It is absurd to look to someone whom we already know is not ‘wise’ in the faith and refer to them with a term that means ‘one who is wise in the faith.’

Today, churches tend to select people as leaders (elders, pastors, bishops, whatever titles they choose) based on education or speaking ability. Usually, the individuals are not actually known by the group of believers who select them (and hire them to do a certain job). So, in fact, people are called “elder” or “pastor” (or whatever) with little to no knowledge of whether the person is actually mature in the faith or actually takes care of people.

This is why one of my favorite passages of Scripture about “leadership” is Matthew 20:25-28. In effect, Jesus is telling them how to recognize who the REAL leaders are among his people. It doesn’t have anything to do with titles or education or ordination or anything like that. What is the main characteristic of a leader? That person serves others.


3 Comments

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  1. 4-4-2012

    I was thinking the same thing when I read Jamal’s post, that it tied in neatly with the one you just published.

  2. 4-4-2012

    I’ve now began to ask when there is a title, or function that is framed in, or under the term “Christian” to use these words as a litmus test.

    Says who?

    Its amazing how simple, and yet profound this questions is.

  3. 4-8-2012

    Arthur,

    Thanks for sharing links to my posts!

    Jim,

    I think one of the hardest things for people to do is to get beyond the titles.

    -Alan