Who Is Influencing the Pastor?
As a leader, a Pastor will seek out other leaders from which to learn and grow. Most pastors have several key influences in their lives. These personal heroes may also be personal relationships. Often, though, there are several influencers who are more nationally-known figures—prominent pastors and Christian leaders who speak and write regularly, and whose resources are readily available to other church leaders.
How another church leaders becomes such an influencer to a particular pastor is largely a matter of taste, exposure and preference. Of those who most influence you—especially in the public realm—ask yourself some questions to determine whether their voice is or is not wise counsel.
Are they teaching the Bible? You can tell almost everything you want to know about an influencer by their preaching. So goes the pulpit, so goes the church—and the man in the pulpit who does not saturate his sermons in God’s Word reveals his greatest weakness as a spiritual leader. Follow pastoral influences who are grounded in the Bible and who are theologically aligned to basic biblical principles. If you hear statements you believe to be in conflict with core doctrine, seek out explanation. Just because a pastor has a big audience or is a popular voice does not mean they are aligned to the Bible.
Is their focus self-centered? A pastor who consistently speaks of his own needs and the needs of his own congregation, especially in a prominent role where he is drawing resources from other churches or church leaders, is open to having his ministry motive questioned. Great influencers are great givers—not only of their experience, but in their time, goals and resources. Follow influencers who see their church not as a destination for resources, but as a base from which to launch out in the mission of Christ locally and globally.
Do they stand boldly on key issues? I recently saw an interview on CNN with a pastor of a very large church in the United States. The interviewer asked him pointed questions on key cultural and spiritual issues—and the pastor simply would not take a Bible-based stand on any of them. Rather than see the interview as an opportunity to clarify, he was defensive. Regardless of his desire for political correctness, a pastor must be able to articulate clear biblical teaching. The best influencers are able to do this in a way that is loving but firm toward those who may disagree with their beliefs. Don’t follow non-committal, wishy-washy men.
Do they handle money well? I believe a prominent pastor who flaunts or seeks personal wealth should not be followed. We all know the history of televangelists who succumbed to the temptation of the dollar. They did great damage to the cause of Christ. When we look at Jesus clear instructions on giving our lives and possessions away to those in need, and the subsequent example of the New Testament church, I believe it is difficult to reconcile the pursuit of wealth in relation to pastoral leadership. But a pastor who is visibly frugal, and uses his influence to give his life away to others and for the sake of the Gospel—there is a man that stands as a true leader for Christ.
Are they pushing the Kingdom forward? Most of all, crave influences who push your personal spiritual growth, and the growth of the Kingdom forward. That does not necessarily mean someone who has grown or is growing a big church. It does mean someone who is vocal in the media or even controversial. Ask, “Will this leader’s ideas and influence make a difference in 50 years? 100 years?” Among us today are the next Spurgeons, Finneys, Bonhoeffers, Calvins, Lewis, Tozers, Stotts and so many more. The names whose teachings as passed down generationally spoke and acted with great wisdom during the own time.
Author: Eugene Mason, Communications Director for Cross Pointe Church under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt.