Probably more so than any other generation, there is a strong seduction to the pulpit. The attention, the technology, the lights and the production are all part of the paraphernalia of this addiction. Do it correctly, with some worldly advice and techniques, and leaders can easily have a cult-like following of gawkers who substitute popularity for purity, foolishness for faith, or entertainment for excellence. It is the ‘drug of choice’ by many ‘young guns’ in the church world.
**(I’m not referring to the piece of furniture we call ‘pulpit,’ but to the position of leading. It exists whether someone uses a stool, chair, table or music stand.)
What does this seduction look like? What are some of the earmarks of this addiction? Glad you asked. Here are a couple of them which my older and mature fellow Elders will recognize.
- Must have the Sunday Morning Service – The addict lives off of the fact that the crowd came to hear him preach. It gives him value. Yes, the TV and radio broadcasts always feature the same man. (Few escape this one.)
- When not present, pipe in messages via internet or live streaming – This is how the megachurch can become the biggest drug dealer. It allows the addict to continually get a fix by over-inflating their importance.
- Talk about you and your family’s adventures instead of Scripture – It’s the church’s version of ‘Ozzy and Harriet’ or ‘My Three Sons.’ After all, people need to know about your ‘smoking hot wife’ or your ‘funny little kids’ every week–NOT.
- Feel great when compliments come, but very depressed when not – Only satisfied when others approve. You are really a prisoner…not a liberator.
- The feeling of power when an audience hangs onto your next point – The highest ‘high’ is having people’s attention in the palm of your hand and hanging on for your next point. It is a rush like no other. (Every speaker must guard against this one.)
- Church video and tape ministry is all ‘your’ stuff – After all, you are the ‘man!’ Plus, there is a constant feeling of threat if others get attention.
- God is on the move…especially when it involves your vision – It is your way, defined by your work and involving your methodology. Otherwise, it is people walking in the flesh. No one else has a vision of ministry like you.
Just like a ‘crack addict,’ these signs are hard to see and admit by the one living in them. They blind the sincere, entrap the young and ultimately will destroy the messenger. Just like crack cocaine, it may take years before the harrowing affects show their damage, but it will reveal itself.
What is the deliverance from this seduction and addiction? Here are six simple principles. Some are painful and some require rethinking church issues. However, all are liberating and healthy.
- Slay pride at every turn, no matter how small or insignificant it appears. Take pride and the flesh to the cross and, by faith, put it to death through identification with Christ.
- Define leadership and ministry biblically. Stop the secular business approach.
- Minister with a team and step down from the ‘top dog’ position. The biblical pattern of plurality of Elders promotes a healthy church which hears from various gifts regularly!
- Have fellow leaders who hold you accountable and invite them to speak openly into your life. We all have blind spots and need the gift of others to help us see them.
- Realize the time in the pulpit is about God’s message through Christ, and not you or your family. (An illustration is one thing, commentary of your family life is another.) Therefore, saturate your life with prayer and the study of God’s Word.
- Promote the work of others and rejoice when God is using their call and vision. Realize that tunnel vision is an issue of pride.
There is hope, deliverance and rescue from the seduction and addiction to the pulpit. In the years to come we will see many whose lives and families are destroyed through its’ allure. Let us be ready to help those who cry out for help, pray for those who do not see their addiction, and live free from the allure of it in our own lives.
After all, it is not about us. It really is ‘All About Jesus!’