I love the term “pastor” more than the term, “priest.” The word pastor reminds me more of my responsibilities to God’s people than my position of authority and power. Being a pastor reminds me of a not easy sacrificial task. In most cases pastors get busy attending to the needs of their parishioners at the expense of their own family. Due to the tasking nature of the pastor’s vocation, I strongly agree that any legitimate and biblical effort aimed at enhancing his welfare and productivity should be encouraged and well supported.
In his book, “The Contemporary Christian,” John Stott writes that Jesus Christ as the Great Shepherd was moved with compassion when he saw the crowds, because they were harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd. The good shepherd serves his sheep. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. For he (the good Shepherd), is devoted to their welfare and his whole life is dominated by it. A hireling does his work for money.” John Stott here is not advocating that a pastor should literarily lay his life for his flock, but what he meant here is that a pastor should be committed to the welfare of his flock unlike the hired or fake hands whose interest is to waylay them for his own cheap gain. In our clime, we hear of how the numbers of pastors have recently risen, this increase should have spelt doom for the devil but rather it seems the devil is enjoying this boom that should have been his doom. I received a call from one of my parishioners asking if she should go ahead to release sixty thousand Naira to a pastor. The pastor, who heads a so called ministry, had prophesied to her during a church night vigil program that she would receive great favours that will surpass her highest imagination.
During the night vigil, the pastor made an alter call, and subsequently asked those who answered the alter call to see him later in the office. This pastor told the girl how the Lord has decided to bless her in a mighty way. The pastor went ahead to say, “Congratulations, my daughter, in fact I envy you, because the kind of favour the Lord is bringing to you is so much and bigger than you, but what have I to say, it is nothing but your luck.” (Luck?) The pastor continued by asking the girl of if she had a bank account and how much she had in it. When the girl had disclosed all theses he instructed her to withdraw Sixty Thousand Naira and bring it to him as a gift for a motherless baby home. According to him, this amount of money that will be given to the motherless babies’ home will eventually open the door for her to enjoy the great and awesome blessing the Lord has sent her. This lady however started getting wisdom when the she went to an automated teller machine card (ATM) to withdraw the money. According to her, she prayed and asked God for wisdom and a sign to prove the authenticity of this order. When she made the first attempt to withdraw, she experienced network difficulty. She called the pastor on phone and told him of her difficulty, the pastor urged her to go to another ATM centre. Fortunately for her, when she got to the next ATM centre, her card got stuck in the machine! Then she realized that God might be showing her a sign not to continue in the withdrawal. Despite the difficulty she encountered, this pastor still called her and instructed her to come to him on Monday to help her facilitate a withdrawal from the counter. This girl however put an end to her plans to obey the so called pastor’s instruction.
While Boko Haram is invading the North East, I think we in the South East are being invaded by these marauding con-men and women who come to us in the garment of pastors. What is most appalling is that they are succeeding in defrauding many who think that Christianity is all about “favour” “open door” and so called promotion. I encourage those of us who are passionate about the Gospel to step up teachings and Bible studies in their churches. A situation whereby people go to church not to study the word but to receive “rhema,” “unction,” “word of prophecy” and “anointing” from the pastor is pitiable. Genuine pastors should stand their ground in making their parishioners participate in a deliberate and well coordinated Bible study. A Christian who engages in Bible study is hardly fooled by these marauding hirelings in sheep’s clothing. We must transit from this “Receive it, Receive it,” syndrome to settling down to study God’s word. This study should be aimed at knowing Christ and how we can flee from worldly passions.
We must desist from discouraging our dedicated pastors from organizing Pre-Matins or Intra Matins Bible study. Parents should talk to their children about these so called Christian “ministries” that are run by people who do not speak about Christ and the salvation he offers but only about wealth and riches. If we continue to allow our churches to be centered on events and “prophetic utterances,” we stand the risk of losing the essence of our being a people of God washed in the blood of Christ.