Honor vs. Idolatry
Like many others in the church, I've observed a fair share of idolatry when it comes to Christian leaders. It's no secret that many people honor their pastors more than God. Quite a few, in fact, have little to no relationship with God, but find solace in their relationship with and service to "God's man" or "God's woman."
I certainly believe, preach and vehemently teach that such is not appropriate. However, there is another concern I have for the Body of Christ - the lack of honor and respect given by those who are so careful not to idolize men that they become disrespectful to those truly called by God.
Balance is a very delicate thing. I've observed, in many cases, where leaders who refuse to be idolized are quickly and easily abused. Their time is not respected. They are treated as if their services are "owed". They spend hours giving godly counsel and advice only to be ignored. They are then expected to receive every prodigal son with open arms without any reflection on the past. Yet, the same people who are so careful to "keep them humble" by treating them as common as possible continue, in many cases, to pay greater respect to others who abuse power and position. It's an intriguing dichotomy in today's Christian church.
I believe in joint accountability. I do not teach nor condone the separation of "laity vs. clergy". Only God is to be worshiped. As such, His word does command that we give honor where honor is due. We are not to burden those who watch over our souls. Leader or not, we are to love one another. Our Father expects us to esteem others higher than ourselves, regardless of title or position.
With that, I am concerned with the generation of believers who judge those as weak or immature who outwardly love, honor or respect a mentor or leader. Why is that wrong? I have always been one to openly acknowledge, respect and honor my leaders and mentors, though I have been abused by some in the past. Frankly, it upsets me that believers see me as "weak" for doing so. Even more, showing the same honor and respect to my brothers and sisters who don't have titles somehow conveys to other "clergy" that I'm too weak or "common". Why?
As a pastor, I find myself carefully monitoring how others treat me, such that I'm not interpreted as being "like all the rest." I feel, at times, a pressure to ensure that no one goes out of their way on my behalf, as I may have to defend the same and redeem my integrity by proving that I'm a servant with absolutely no benefit. Since when has it become a sin to accept a token of love or appreciation for loving and appreciating others? Is this really where we want to be as the Body of Christ? Does that demonstrate the love the Messiah?
We have the Holy Ghost. We must employ Him and follow His leading. Else we will become a generation that dismisses everything holy because a few have abused it. The tithing doctrine has been used to control and abuse, yet we must still give... God's way. Position and authority has been used to control and abuse, yet we must still submit... God's way. This notion and honor has been used to control and abuse, yet we must still respect those who have been assigned to watch over our souls... God's way.
BALANCE is key!
My prayer is that we will seek God for balance in all things, else we all fall short by "throwing the [proverbial] baby out with the bath water". Selah.