I Am Not Jesus

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Being a Senior Pastor is new for me. Granted, I’ve served in ministry for 13 years as Children’s, Youth, Collegiate, and now Senior Pastoral roles, but sitting “in the chair” is new. I’m totally underselling it, but this role has presented a big lesson in ministry that I never really faced before.

Of course I’ve learned all kinds of lessons in each of those roles, and each has provided me opportunities for growth and wisdom, but this particular role of Pastor has expanded my need to understand a critical piece to ministry:

I’m not Jesus.

No surprise, I know, but this issue really came to my mind the other day when a guy in my church said to me, “I want to visit you in the office and have coffee, because if I’m close to you, I’ll be close to God.” Ummm, what? Here was my response: “No. I’m not Jesus. I won’t pretend to be Jesus, and only Jesus can cause you to be closer to the Father. Not me.”

Silence oozed from the other line.

The role of Pastor often causes this issue to rise in my heart and life of both Pastors and of members of a local church. In seminary, I heard this conflict described as the “Messiah-complex.” Not that someone wakes up thinking they are the Messiah, or that others are considering the Pastor as the Messiah, rather, because of the role of Pastors, many think they have to do every hospital visit, the one to pray at every gathering, the one to preach every Sunday, the one to do the funeral, or the wedding or even the baptism. It’s definitely tempting.

When Pastors, and their people think this way, they not only do a disservice to the congregation, but they do damage to themselves and the Kingdom. This may be why Paul reminds Timothy, a Pastor, this very thing in 1 Timothy 2:5: For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…

Pastors, and their members, who think that the Pastor is the Messiah have truncated the gospel, and made their Pastor, or the position of pastor an idol. It’s dangerous thinking and one that Pastors must confront at every turn, both in their own hearts and heads, but also in the hearts and heads of the people they are trying to serve.

There is only One Jesus, and I’m not Him.