Imagine yourself in the role of the lead pastor at the trendy megachurch.
On a weekly basis, your church expects you to deliver flawless sermons that will connect with a live audience, a congregation watching on video and the thousands who download your podcast.
Because your church is one of the hottest in the nation, every top conference wants you to come and share your wisdom to the other pastors anxious (jealous?) to become the next you.
Being in the public eye, you’d better look hip and modern with a perfect family who adores you and has no visible issues or skeletons in the closet.
On top of all of this, you need to be on Twitter and Facebook dropping pithy words of wisdom that convey perfectly nuanced theological positions in 140 characters or less.
Oh and did I mention, you are supposed to blog on a regular basis with posts that inspire every person who clicks a link and write best-selling books that are deep, but accessible, intelligent, but down-to-earth.
Pastors and leaders must turn to others to help meet the overwhelming expectations they face. Getting others to help with the workload is not a sign of weakness. It is entirely biblical.
For a pastor, even those in smaller churches, having someone help you develop sermons or edit blog posts can be a blessing, as well as a help to your congregation.
The problem comes when the next step is taken – using questionable or explicable unethical measures of plagiarism and taking sole credit for work that is not theirs.
Why do celebrity pastors feel the need to do this? Personal ego and public expectations.
Some pastors want to give off the impression that they have it all together and can do everything. Many of their adoring fans expect nothing less. It becomes a vicious cycle.
All of us are to blame. To fix all of the celebrity idolatry within the church, it will require both the leader and the crowds changing their viewpoint.
Leaders must be humble enough to acknowledge their own shortcomings and the areas in which they aren’t gifted. It is entirely possible to be a great verbal communicator, but struggle when it comes to organizing words for print.
Pastors and leaders should be make it clear to their congregations and those that follow them from a distance that they are not some ministry superhero capable of preparing sermons faster than a speeding bullet and writing books in a single afternoon.
Do not feed into the temptation people already have to set up men as idols. Encourage them to learn from numerous people, but to only follow One.
When pastors believe they need to be the best pastor, preacher, speaker, counselor, writer, they reinforce the false celebrity worship of our culture.
Not only that, but it undermines God’s design for the church. It fails to recognize that God has not gifted the pastor to do everything. The pastor and leader’s job is to equip the saints under his care.
Don’t complain about church members not becoming involved and serving, if you are constantly behaving as if you did it all alone and refuse to give credit to those who serve alongside of you.
Celebrity pastors need ghostwriters because of their ego.
Crowds must grant a leader both time away from the spotlight and the freedom to allow others to help handle the workload.
Exodus 18 provides the blueprint for addressing issues of an overworked leader. The Israelites wanted Moses to do everything and be everything to everyone. He was running himself ragged and Jethro, his father-in-law, recognized it.
“What you’re doing is not good,” Jethro told him. “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone.”
That is the case for every leader – he cannot do it alone, yet so many essentially require their pastor to do just that.
As a writer, I find it presumptuous and a bit insulting for others to assume that every pastor should be a great writer. That denigrates my giftedness and the abilities of others who do things that are not as visible.
There are pastors and leaders who are exceptional writers, but not all of them. We need to accept the fact they need help. Maybe God is calling us to be one of the helpers.
Writing the future
Pastors and leaders must be willing to ask for help and acknowledge those who contribute to their success. Congregations and the Christian public must recognize that leaders need help.
Inflated egos and unfair expectations have fed into the already prevalent Christian celebrity culture. To move forward honestly and biblically, we need to lower both of those.
Now, that’s what we all need.