My husband gasped.
“Joy. You won’t believe what I just read.”
I stop writing and look at him. He never talks like that.
“I was just checking out this church’s website. The head pastor’s bio starts with ‘___ is the best pastor in the world.‘”
I’m speechless, mouth gaping. I’m never speechless.
“That’s in his web bio?”
(To be fair, it looks like the bio was written by someone else…)
It isn’t the first time I’ve heard language like this. I’ve heard pastors call their church members to make theirs “the best church in the world” as well.
I have so many questions about this.
First and most important, have these “men of God” not read Mark 9?
Mark 9:33-35 “And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
What makes a pastor or a church “the best”? Serving. Being last.
Therefore, you cannot be the best and at the same time say that you are the best.
Second, did Jesus call on us to be the best church or the best pastor in the world?
No. Jesus said that God’s commands to us can be summed up in this:
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, New International Version, ©2011)
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27, New International Version, ©2011)
Third, what about the churches and pastors who love God who are, by default NOT the best if you are?
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Corinthians 12:21-26, New International Version, ©2011)
This passage in 1 Corinthians teaches that we all work together for God’s glory and to strengthen one another where each is weak. There is no best or better in God’s kingdom.
It is clear from Scripture that the language of competition, of one-upmanship, of pride, has no place in the church.
So what should we do if we hear that sort of talk in our church? What do we do if our pastor talks this way?