"Do not touch My anointed, and do My prophets no harm" (1 Chr. 16:22, Ps. 105:15).
A pastor who wants a free hand to come and go as he pleases chafes when told he is accountable to the membership or must report to a certain committee. He pulls out Psalm 105:15 and 1 Chronicles 16:22 and uses these as a battering ram on his people.
He bellows, "God's Word says, 'Touch not Mine anointed!' It says, 'Do My prophets no harm.'"
Then, he gives his twisted interpretation of his misconstrued favorite passage.
"This means no one in the church and no group is allowed to criticize the pastor. God's messengers answer only to God!"
The only problem with that is it just isn't so.
No one is above criticism. No one has a free hand to do with the people of God as he pleases.
Here is what the apostle Peter said to preachers:
"Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion, but willingly; not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that fades not away" (1 Pet. 5:2-4, NKJV).
The pastor is not the lord of the congregation. As the overseer, he is supposed to be an example for God's people, a role model. The people are entrusted to the minister and he will give an account for each of them (Heb. 13:17).
Instead of preaching his sovereignty and proclaiming his independence, the pastor should concentrate on showing God's people how to love, serve, humble themselves and bless one another.
I worry about pastors who play the headship card. He tells the church, "Just as God made the husband the head of the home and of the wife, He made me the head of the church."
Both statements are asking for big-time trouble.
It is true that the husband is the head of the home. But Scripture teaches just as firmly that he must not pull rank on his wife. The husband is to serve his wife. His role model—the ultimate role model—is our Lord Himself. "Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Eph. 5:25b, ESV).
No wife would mind following a husband who was as devoted to her as Christ is to the church. Any wife will resent a husband who demands her service, loyalty and love because "God made me the head of the home and I deserve it."
That man is a bully who does not know God's Word and is abusing the love of the woman he should be protecting and blessing.
Likewise, the pastor who tries such a stunt on his people deserves all the grief he's going to get.
Why will he get grief? Because he will have a few leaders—God grant!—who know their Scriptures enough to know the pastor is pulling a power play and who will not let him get by with it.
I once heard a famous pastor of a mega-independent church say, "Someone accused me of being a dictator. I told them, 'I'm not only the dictator, I'm the only tater!" To our shame, he got a rousing chorus of amens from the roomful of preachers.
Some years later, that same preacher ended his ministry in shame. Had there been a team of leaders along the way to hold him accountable and force him to answer for his foolishness, his ministry could have been saved, and he could have ended well.
"Do my prophets no harm." This statement, found only twice in Scripture, refers to prophets—not anyone else. It is not found in the New Testament in any shape or form. Furthermore, the New Testament makes it clear that all of God's people are anointed, not just pastors.
"But you have an anointing from the Holy One" (1 John 2:20, 27, MEV). (See 2 Cor. 1:21).
Is the pastor anointed? Yes, in the same way as every other child of God. Period. End of discussion.
Does the Lord take it personally (and seriously) when His people do harm to one another? He does indeed.
Let every pastor take note that the leaders who ask you to account for some questionable doctrine, suspicious expenditures, unprovoked outbursts or wrong behavior are not doing you harm. They may in fact be your best friends, keeping you from harming God's people, bringing shame upon the Lord and destroying your ministry.
In my last church, I was surprised to see the bylaws contained provisions for a "pastor advisory committee." This group of half a dozen men and women, whose membership was constantly changing just as the other church committees were, met with the pastor monthly or quarterly, I forget which. Where did such a committee come from? I suspect I know.
For such a provision to be included in the constitution/bylaws almost always means a previous pastor abused his freedom. And that was the case. A previous pastor had had the bylaws changed to allow him to preach eight revivals a year, in addition to his vacation time and conference/convention absences. That's far too many. We changed it to a reasonable two revivals a year. After that pastor left, the church insisted on the bylaws requiring an accountability group so no pastor would ever again run roughshod over the congregation to get his way.
That "pastor advisory committee" was a good experience for all of us. The members bent over backward to avoid appearing to supervise me. At the same time, I freely informed them about what was going on and answered their questions.
The fact that the committee was there and in place was a good thing. Had I gotten out of line—preaching some strange doctrine, ruling autocratically, doing something morally questionable—they would have sprung into action.
The church that does not have an accountability group in place, no matter what they call it, may be asking for trouble.
Most pastors are honorable and sincerely try to serve the Lord who died for them and called them into this work. However, not everyone calling himself a pastor is worthy. Not every pastor is honorable. Not every pastor is humble and willing to be an example to the flock.
Since Scripture addresses this, the problem has clearly been with us from the beginning.
"... be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. Until I come, give attention to reading, exhortation, and doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you.... Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:12-16).
Joe McKeever is retired from the pastorate but still active in preaching, writing and cartooning for Christian publications. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.
For the original article, visit joemckeever.com.
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