Those who hold the title of clergy have been experiencing a fall from popular culture. The image of a pastor has transformed from a caring individual, dedicated to bringing hope and restoration into a community to a televangelist bent on stealing money from the poor through the prosperity gospel.
This seems like a new phenomenon.
It’s really not.
This utter lack of respect for clergy began in the early 19th century. Nathan O. Hatch mentions this time of transformation by quoting from the 3rd Epistle of Peter… at least that’s what it was called. Alexander Campbell mocked professional clergy with this fake letter. In it, “Peter” instructs ministers to “live well, wear the best clothes, adorn themselves with high-sounding titles, drink costly wine, and fleece the people.”
This destructive seed which was planted in the 19th century is now coming to full bloom in the 21st century. As a member of the so-called clergy, we can respond to this in two ways.
One way is to get angry. I mean REALLY angry. This is how many of the pastors in the 19th century responded.
This doesn’t work.
Pastor, you do realize that we serve a crucified Savior right?
Have you forgot Matthew 10:25?
“It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul (or Satan), how much more will they malign those of his household.”
The Gospel will be administered under the shadow of the cross. Ministry is not a call to respectability but to death. The Apostles themselves were treated as the scum of the earth, why should YOU be treated any better? This leaves us with the second option…
Pastor, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us…” What if instead of getting mad at those who accuse us of fleecing the sheep, we laid down our lives (and time) sacrificially for those who malign us? What if, instead of bemoaning the lack of respectability for clergy, we loved the very people that hate us?
The ministry is one of crucifixion.
You will receive a crown… but not from the culture.
You will experience resurrection… but not from those who don’t know God.
The rewards you will get for faithfully fulfilling the ministry God has given you far outweigh every negative word, unfair rumor, and false accusation you will ever experience.
Pastor, keep your eyes on Jesus… He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He is the Prince of Peace. He is the Chief Shepherd – minister from HIS strength and power – not your own.