I had the privilege of spending two weeks in Zambia a few weeks back. I was there celebrating my sister’s wedding!
While there I was impressed with the reverence and respect with which the average person treats their pastors. I know that some churches still seem to show respect for their pastors but not to the extent I saw in Zambia. No one calls their pastor by their first name. It is always Pastor So and So.
After the wedding, while pictures were being taken, it was hot. Some people had already found a place to buy a Coke when the pastor noticed and asked where we got them. We just pointed to the nearby bar. Later we were told that we probably should have gotten one for him and not just sent him on his way as that would have shown more respect.
While the reverence was there, I didn’t really see the pastors taking advantage of people, until I went to one of the larger charismatic churches in Lusaka. During the singing I noticed that there were some special chairs in the middle of the front row. They looked like thrones! They were similiar to “wingback” living room chairs – I think that is the correct term. These were for the Rev. Dr. Bishop So and So and his wife Prophetess So and So. In front of them was a glass coffee table, complete with flowers in a vase, a pitcher of ice water, and glasses. There were some chairs next to theirs, not anywhere as nice yet much better than the blue folding chairs the rest of us sat in. I was amazed – even appalled at the sight. Did this pastor think he was a king?
During my sister’s wedding the pastor made a comment about having the right to marry them based on that fact that he was “ordained by God”. That phrase caught my attention. We may talk about being ordained by our church or by our denomination but I don’t very often hear pastors saying they were ordained by God! But I like that. That means we should be much less concerned about the respect or lack of respect we get from people and much more concerned about how well we are serving the one who has called us and ordained us for the pastoral role!
Pastor: Servant, not King!