I think one of the saddest dysfunctions in much of our church world today is the worship of pastors or other spiritual leaders. I know this dysfunction well from both positions: worshipper and worshippee.
I ran into some wonderful friends today who attend a good, large church in the area. As so often happens when conversation turns toward church or faith, they began talking about their pastor: the wonderful sermons he has been preaching, the way he has been dealing with a personal health issue, how much they appreciate him. Don't get me wrong, I care about their pastor and I do think he's a fine Christian brother. I don't mind talking about him. It's just that subtle adoration or veneration that one hears when talking to Christians. And why does the subject of "my pastor" come up so often?
Another woman came back from a Christian conference and was having lunch with my wife. My wife came home from the lunch knowing more about the speaker ("who was so powerfully used by God") than the message that God had given him to share.
Believe me, I have experienced it myself, there is a status and reverence in the Christian world associated with "pastor" that is, in many cases, completely out of line. In the process of lifting up certain spiritual leaders, the rest of the Body of Christ, the beautiful awesome Body of Christ, is putting itself down by comparison. By insinuating that this person or that person is special, we are relegating the rest of believers to something that is a little less than special. How utterly tragic for Christ's Body!
Not only that, we are creating an unwholesome expectation upon those that we have lifted up to the rank of "special." No wonder so many pastors and leaders are burning out (my own story)... No one can live up to the regal-like stature that the Christian world seems to want their leaders to walk in.
When I hear these dear Christians talk about their pastors I just want to cry. I cry for their pastor who has to carry such a huge responsibility in order to live up to their expectations. And I to cry for these Christians who just don't get it that they are as special, as gifted (in their own way), as important, as significant, as necessary, as wonderful, as anyone else in the Body of Christ.
Is it too much to dream of God's people--the church--supporting each other, loving each other, encouraging equally the gifts in each other, and moving forward under the headship, the leadership, and the direction of the only One that truly deserves all reverence--Jesus Himself. What freedom would this bring and what possibilities might this open up if we would lift up only Him while mutually and appropriately esteeming one another.