Plenty have lamented the problem of “celebrity culture” in the church, and usually that phrase brings into our minds famous pastors and leaders in the church today. But “celebrity culture” can be an equal challenge for non-famous, local ministries — and some of its most insidious effects crop up there.
The dangers of “celebrity culture” lurk anytime pastors become isolated from the normal, mutual processes of accountability and encouragement in the body of Christ — anytime leadership is characterized by Hebrews 13:17 authority without Hebrews 3:13 accountability:
- Authority: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls.” (Hebrews 13:17)
- Accountability: “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13)
How do we encourage both Hebrews 3 and Hebrews 13 dynamics in our church cultures? In other words, how do we affirm our pastors in their leadership over us without exalting them into some separate category above the sheep?
As a younger pastor, I’m seeking to grow in my leadership without disengaging from Hebrews 3:13 dynamics like confessing my sin, or getting counsel, or letting some older saints help me when my kids are terrorizing the church potluck. I share these (partial) thoughts in hopes that they might help us honor pastoral authority while remembering that the highest authority is reserved for Christ alone, who said, “You are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers” (Matthew 23:8).