Can Pastors of Large Churches be Servant Leaders? // TGC Africa Opinions

The core role of pastors as shepherds of God’s people never changes. But how can we combat pride and remain servant leaders as our churches grow? Vuyani Sindo and Don Carson share their opinions in this video.

Pastors are meant to be Shepherds

Vuyani Sindo: “I think part of the thing is how you view yourself and define who you are. I mean, the Bible calls pastors Shepherds. It’s that you ought to look after God’s people and take care of them. So your identity as a pastor, as your ministry grows, doesn’t really – in my understanding – change. You are still a pastor. And of course there’s an element of leadership and wisdom that’s needed in terms of how do I train the team to make sure people in the church are taken care of better. But, I think, I mean, it’s almost like you need to do that constantly looking at your heart.

Am I getting a big head? Am I starting to view myself as being better than others? Or, am I still deriving my identity in Christ?

Our identity must be in Christ

Am I getting a big head? Am I starting to view myself as being better than others? Or, am I still deriving my identity in Christ? Because I think that’s where you have to go. You constantly have to get your identity in Christ. You constantly have to look at scriptures to remind yourself of what your role is.

The real role of Christian Pastors

We operate in terms of a different value system than the world. So, in the world a leader is someone who has to maximise profit; grow the company. But I think pastors are called to take care of God’s people. To constantly feed God’s people. To labor at explaining God’s word faithfully. So, I don’t think you graduate, as a church grows, to say that there are certain tasks that now as a leader of the church are beyond, or are below me. Because after all, I don’t think you can ever get to be greater than your own master. Who is Christ. So you are still a servant of Christ. In fact, you are his slave. We should be doing all that we can to serve him as a Christian.

I don’t think you graduate, as a church grows, to say that there are certain tasks that now as a leader of the church are beyond, or are below me. Because after all, I don’t think you can ever get to be greater than your own master. Who is Christ.

Some practical steps pastors can take

Don Carson: “I think that there are sometimes practical steps that can be taken. I know the pastor of a large church in a city. In New York City. Who as the church has grown now to several thousand, all along the line he has made sure that every week, on a six-month cycle, he leads an evangelistic Bible study with non-christians.

Don’t lose touch with ordinary people

Now, it’s possible, when you become pastor of a large church, that you’re dealing with other pastors, you’re dealing with staff, you’re dealing with sermons, you’re dealing with students and so on. So, you’re dealing only with Christians all week long. And then you become six feet above contradiction! You… everybody is stroking you. Whereas one of the things that he makes sure he does is that he has regular Bible studies, and so on, with people who know nothing. People off the streets. He has a different profile every every six months for the people that he’s working with. So that he doesn’t lose touch with ordinary people. In other words, there are practical steps that you can can take in this regard to to ensure a certain kind of authenticity.

So, you’re dealing only with Christians all week long. And then you become six feet above contradiction! … Everybody is stroking you.

Some years ago there was a senior theologian by the name of Carl Henry who gave some lectures at Trinity. He was in his mid 80s at the time. He gave some lectures on how he understood Christianity to be progressing in North America. Strengths and weaknesses. And the next day before our student body – they had about 600 students – I was asking him some questions for the video on what he thought about this. What he thought about that. And he was being interviewed with another man called Kenneth Concert. And I didn’t tell him in advance what the questions were going to be. And one of the last questions that I asked them was something like this.

Never step away from the cross

Some Christian men when they get older become grumpy. They become scandalously dismissive of the younger generation coming along behind. They’re always looking back to yesteryear. They resent their weakness. They don’t have the energy anymore. The leadership is passing from them and just become grumpy old men. And they actually begin to destroy what they built up.

how can anybody be arrogant when he stands beside the cross?” That’s exactly right if a person’s becoming arrogant he’s stepping away from the cross.

But you two men, I said to them, are remarkable in that you are… you’re full of grace. You’re full of humility. You are great encouragers of younger folks coming along behind. You offer thanks to God. How have you done that? Don’t just tell me it’s the grace of God – I know it’s the grace of God! But how does the grace of God work out in your life so that’s the way it ended up? And they sputtered a bit, and didn’t know what to say. And then Carl said the best line in the entire video. He said “how can anybody be arrogant when he stands beside the cross?” That’s exactly right if a person’s becoming arrogant he’s stepping away from the cross.

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