“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry”—I Corithians 10:14
AN idol is an object of worship, in simple definition. Idolatry is whatever you worship, adore, venerate much more than God. An idol is whatever takes first Position in your heart and live, whatever you can die for and you can deny your Faith for. That is your idol. In ministry of today, lots of ministers and pastors are serving idols, knowingly or unknowingly. In the light of the above, anything you love too much is your idol and you are in deep idolatry whenever these are uppermost in your heart:-
- When you are in love with the ministry than the Giver of ministry
The preacher who delights too much with his own work than the One who gave him the work is in idolatry. ‘My ministry, my ministry’, that is what we hear all over today. Therefore, pastors are ready to cut corners to see their ministry “grow” than please Jesus, the giver of life and ministry. Pastors no longer worship and recognize the Lordship of Jesus over their life and ministry; ministry has replaced that. You are in idolatry, pure, and simple!
- When you are in deep love of foods and extra desserts
More and more these days, the overweight preacher is the norm. You need to see where preachers are eating and dinning! The breakfast is heavy, the lunch, brunch is superfluous and the dinner is six course meal, every day and every time. By so doing, lots of preachers are digging their graves with their fork and knives. Little wonder, many diseases are killing preachers of today, be-cause the weight is too much. Too much love for food is idolatry! Remember the Israelites in the wilderness?
- The preacher who loves sports too much may be asking for trouble
Sport is a great servant but a poor master, a great diversion but a poor vocation. It can fill a great need when kept in its place, but can wreck lives and careers when allowed to expand uncontrolled. Enough said.
- The preacher who specializes in taking offerings all the time at every preaching.
Yes, this is clear idolatry. Too many preachers of today are in love with money and they cannot but take offering at every sermon, no matter how serious it is. I have known preachers who say that it is their blood to take offering at every preaching. Well, that is idolatry because not every service or preaching time requires an offering taking.
- No wise pastor will love flattery too much
Flattery is like perfume, we’re told. It smells good but will make you sick if you swallow it. I’ve known too many preachers who swallow all the flattery they can find, and then look around for more. Not wise. It leads to being worshipped.
- Mission trips
Effective pastors may take their people on the occasional mission trip, but this too can be a diversion from his leadership of the local flock, if overdone. Pastors who love to travel should be careful here. (Please note I’m not suggesting churches emphasize missions less; only that the pastor should keep his priorities on leading his flock back at home.)
- Loving Extra money can lead to worship of money
The pastor who loves his people and is devoted to becoming the best shepherd possible will also be careful about projects that bring in outside income (for himself). Now, when a pastor is bivocational, or when the church salary is insufficient for his needs, he will do whatever he needs to in order to provide for his family.
However, we have seen pastors with excellent incomes begin to dabble in sideline enterprises that quickly absorbed a great deal of their time and diverted their energies and attention from ministry.
- To be an effective minister to his own people, a wise pastor will not hold more than two or three outside revivals (conferences, retreats, etc.) a year.
If a pastor feels his calling is to an evangelist, let him resign the church and follow the calling. But when he takes the church’s salary and then spends a great portion of his time preaching in other churches—all of which pay him hefty honoraria—he is mis-treating the congregation. I suggest the church finance committee ask him to report to them the income he receives from all these outside meetings.