Another thing Jesus says about Pharisee Pastors is that they “love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues” (Matthew 23.6). There are two different things there that mark Pharisee Pastors, and both are two things we need to make sure we are not into.
- The Best Place at the Social Gathering. Feasts are social gatherings, get togethers. Pastors who need to be involved in every single social gathering do not lead well. Pastors who need to be the centre of attention in every scenario do not lead well. Pastors who love to be honoured in public never succeed. It’s the hallmark of a Pharisee to want to be honoured, even in arenas that are not their own. One of the biggest problems in the church is pastors who are trying to be honoured in areas they are not called to. As a pastor, you will be invited to a lot of social gatherings and events. At weddings, funerals and baby dedications – you have to be there. DO NOT THEN TRY AND BE THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION. My son at Bible College was asked to prepare a whole bunch of funeral messages, which is just foolish. When I go to a funeral, I preach one message. No one is going to listen to my message and go “isn’t that the same message he preached last year at Auntie Jean’s funeral?”. No one is there to see you! They are there to pay their respect, honour the person who died, find solace with each other. Your job is to take a few minutes to remind people that their loved one is in Heaven and to bring some comfort. You are not there to be the centre of attention or a spectacle. Leave the wake early, stay long enough to be respectful then get home. Same with weddings – no one is there to see you. Say a few words to remind the happy couple to put God first – all the hard work should have been done well before the actual day. Then go home! Some pastors are social butterflies – they need to be at each social event. Some are nervous the people are getting together without them, let them – it’s good! Some pastors are at party after party, they are only invited to because people feel they should. Maybe stay in and spend some time with Jesus, maybe visit someone in hospital. And when you do go, don’t ever demand the best place, the best seat, the best this or that. Do not USE THE ANOINTING THAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU AS A GRACE GIFT as a tool to manipulate people to give you honour in social gatherings.
- The Chief Seats at the Synagogues. I go to a lot of meetings because I love learning. Every weekend I am ministering at normally three-five services, meetings where I am the lead pastor, and I am preaching the Word. So when I go elsewhere, I like to sit down and learn and take notes and be fed and grow. As I travel so much, I have seen something that disturbs me so much and I think that is one of the clearest signs that a pastor is a Pharisee, and is little or no use to the kingdom of God and is going to be judgmental and dismissive of others. And it is this – I have seen this happen, and it is more common now than it hasn’t been – people who will only go to a meeting or conference if they are platformed. They are never in the congregation sitting down and learning. You never see them notebook in hand learning. That is clearest sign of being a Pharisee I think there is. If you have a conference and someone flies in and flies out and never listens to another preacher, that’s a sign. Now obviously we are all busy and there are times it has to be that way, but if it is ALWAYS that way, that is a huge red flag. Every pastor needs to ask themselves what was the last meeting where you sat down and heard someone preach, and I do not include in your local church with a guest speaker. It’s a great question I am happy to ask any guest preacher. Though because I love talking about the Word of God, I hear soon enough without asking most of the time. If I am around, let’s say Greg Mohr, for example, it won’t be long before he tells me “I was sitting there listening to (insert some preacher’s name here), and, Ben, he said (this revelation), isn’t that powerful…” and then I will share something similar. But when you are around someone who is never in a meeting they are not platformed in – be careful. Worship leaders and musicians who only turn up the week they are on the rota, be careful. Preachers who only turn up for their slot on the conference, be careful. Preachers who only attend a minister’s gathering when it’s their turn to speak, be extra careful. SELAH.