A Kingdom Without Experts

I got this question today by email from someone. There’s nothing that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck more than this. But I have heard it taught a lot, especially by insecure men and women that are afraid of losing their supposed authority over people who are growing in freedom:

My pastor recently said at a leadership conference my husband attended that he, as the Pastor, hears from God more clearly than we do. Is that biblical? Is that true? It is frustrating because we are on this journey that is leading us to more freedom but we are confronted by people in our congregation that believe we are backsliders. It was said at this meeting that if you don’t serve in the church you are backsliding. It is hard. Hard to know what to believe anymore. Thanks for you words and podcasts. They mean a lot. If you could answer my question I would be grateful. You must be overwhelmed with questions.

Not only is the idea that pastors can hear more clearly from God untrue, but also no man of God would WANT it to be true. Jesus and the early church talked about from the ‘least to the greatest’ of them, ‘all will know me.’ Listening to God and following him is not what the mature folks get to do; it’s what he asked all of us to do. Those who lead don’t hear better, they help equip others to hear for themselves, because they would never want to see any person robbed from the delightful joy of learning how to listen and follow God. In fact a true leader will encourage you to follow him as best you know, even if you make a mistake, rather than follow what they think you should do.

Listen to these words from Matthew 23 in The Message:

“Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.â€

This is a kingdom in which there are no experts to lord over others. Anyone who truly hears God will spend their lives helping others do so as well, not tearing away their confidence so that they will become more dependent on human leadership. That isn’t to say, of course, that there aren’t more mature brothers and sisters around us who can help us learn to follow him, and help us see when we’re missing God’s best for us by following our own desires, thinking they are God’s. But they wouldn’t dare say anything like you’ve written above. They are not interested in replacing God in your life, but helping you let God be your Father, friend and guide!

And, unfortunately, when you fail to conform to the religious standards of an institution, people will think you are backslidding. That doesn’t make it true. In fact, I think the more closely you follow him, the less you’ll fit into the religious constructs of the day, because they are meant to conform people, not to free them to life in him.

I’m sorry for the flack you’re getting, but this is just part of the journey. Keep loving them and loving him, but don’t think you have to conform to their expectations to love them. God has invited us to something so much better.

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16 Comments
  1. SteveW March 26, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    It is so good to know that we are not required to listen to and submit to these so called benefactors.

    It is for freedom that Christ has set us free and that includes the freedom to not live in the condemnation of people who think like this “pastor” and freedom to love them in spite of their efforts to control others.

    Wayne, you said…”Anyone who truly hears God will spend their lives helping others do so as well, not tearing away their confidence so that they will become more dependent on human leadership.”

    Thanks for living in this way and for helping me to hear God for myself.

  2. Brandon March 26, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    A friend from the blogosphere sent my wife and me a link to your blog last week. I have to say that it’s great to find others that are on a similar journey with God. I have been in the ministry for 4-1/2 years now. For the past 2 years God has been bringing my wife and I to the place where we do less to serve the church and more to pursue Him personally. This has come at no small cost. We’re seen as rebellious and lazy because we don’t “do enough”. And we still do more than we probably should be doing.

    I’m sure there will be more for me to post on this subject in the future as this journey unfolds…

    Be blessed…
    Brandon

  3. SteveW March 26, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    It is so good to know that we are not required to listen to and submit to these so called benefactors.

    It is for freedom that Christ has set us free and that includes the freedom to not live in the condemnation of people who think like this “pastor” and freedom to love them in spite of their efforts to control others.

    Wayne, you said…”Anyone who truly hears God will spend their lives helping others do so as well, not tearing away their confidence so that they will become more dependent on human leadership.”

    Thanks for living in this way and for helping me to hear God for myself.

  4. Brandon March 26, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    A friend from the blogosphere sent my wife and me a link to your blog last week. I have to say that it’s great to find others that are on a similar journey with God. I have been in the ministry for 4-1/2 years now. For the past 2 years God has been bringing my wife and I to the place where we do less to serve the church and more to pursue Him personally. This has come at no small cost. We’re seen as rebellious and lazy because we don’t “do enough”. And we still do more than we probably should be doing.

    I’m sure there will be more for me to post on this subject in the future as this journey unfolds…

    Be blessed…
    Brandon

  5. stacy March 27, 2007 at 5:49 am

    hey wayne…in reading your response i got to thinking about the “call no man father…” bit. is there a history behind that word, or the use of that word, in jewish tradition? the only thing i can recall is that silly song we used to sing about “father abraham.” in modern times, i’ve heard that passage most often being used to refute the practice of liturgical/catholic traditions where priests are referred to as “father” but what would be the new testament (or pre-new testament) context of jesus’ words?

  6. stacy March 27, 2007 at 8:49 am

    hey wayne…in reading your response i got to thinking about the “call no man father…” bit. is there a history behind that word, or the use of that word, in jewish tradition? the only thing i can recall is that silly song we used to sing about “father abraham.” in modern times, i’ve heard that passage most often being used to refute the practice of liturgical/catholic traditions where priests are referred to as “father” but what would be the new testament (or pre-new testament) context of jesus’ words?

  7. Pam March 28, 2007 at 6:36 am

    I am always blown away by the extreme level of control in some quarters. My husband and I always attended tiny, struggling churches. (I use the term “church” as it is culturally understood.) I thinkk the pastors didn’t succeed because they just sort of wanted to teach people, but were really bad at running things. Maybe we instinctively enjoyed that.

    This leaders statement hits my heart as being pretty “cultish”. A friend of a friend of mine had to leave a fellowship after becoming pregnant with their third child. they were called before the elders. Their offense: they got pregnant without consulting the “conception committee”. I am not making this up. I am curious to how that practice got started though I’m sure ultimately I don’t want know!!

  8. Pam March 28, 2007 at 9:36 am

    I am always blown away by the extreme level of control in some quarters. My husband and I always attended tiny, struggling churches. (I use the term “church” as it is culturally understood.) I thinkk the pastors didn’t succeed because they just sort of wanted to teach people, but were really bad at running things. Maybe we instinctively enjoyed that.

    This leaders statement hits my heart as being pretty “cultish”. A friend of a friend of mine had to leave a fellowship after becoming pregnant with their third child. they were called before the elders. Their offense: they got pregnant without consulting the “conception committee”. I am not making this up. I am curious to how that practice got started though I’m sure ultimately I don’t want know!!

  9. Andrew March 30, 2007 at 7:18 am

    Shane,

    I don’t see where abandonment of the church is the issue here nor the advice given. In fact “keep loving them and loving him†was given. In this journey we were given only one model that is to follow our King the true shepherd and no one else. The early church were groups of those people. They didn’t follow the teachings of Paul vs Peter vs John etc. They were taught to follow the King.

    I trust that someday you may truly understand what the cross did and know how much he loves you.

  10. Andrew March 30, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Shane,

    I don’t see where abandonment of the church is the issue here nor the advice given. In fact “keep loving them and loving him†was given. In this journey we were given only one model that is to follow our King the true shepherd and no one else. The early church were groups of those people. They didn’t follow the teachings of Paul vs Peter vs John etc. They were taught to follow the King.

    I trust that someday you may truly understand what the cross did and know how much he loves you.

  11. sid campbell April 1, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    I am new to all this freedom being expressed in publications and from readers just like you. I am also going to 71 years old this summer so you could expect me to have seen a lot of what goes on in the man made church. I have been in leadership in many of them and know what it fells like to be “in charge”. This whole concept of freedom works for me too. I know longer have to “perform” to the disalusioned who sadly think that is the way it is supposed to be. Thanks for the eye openeryou folks are holding forth for old stuck in their ways people like me. Thanks people. sid

  12. sid campbell April 1, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    I am new to all this freedom being expressed in publications and from readers just like you. I am also going to 71 years old this summer so you could expect me to have seen a lot of what goes on in the man made church. I have been in leadership in many of them and know what it fells like to be “in charge”. This whole concept of freedom works for me too. I know longer have to “perform” to the disalusioned who sadly think that is the way it is supposed to be. Thanks for the eye openeryou folks are holding forth for old stuck in their ways people like me. Thanks people. sid

  13. Carol April 1, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    If our activities within the Body of Christ do not leave us with the genuine sense of having derived a closer relationship with the Father, then we have wasted our time. There will be others who will assist us along our journey and spark new and deeper understandings, but the Holy Spirit is our Teacher, and will He confirm all truth and distortion to which we are exposed.

    If we continually leave spiritual gatherings feeling “flat†and unfulfilled (whether or not falsely stirred emotionally by polished performances), then we need to reconsider where we are being “fed†and by whom. Always keep in mind that a “shepherd” never wishes to lose any of his working capital; that is going to affect his bottom line — his budget !!!

  14. Carol April 1, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    If our activities within the Body of Christ do not leave us with the genuine sense of having derived a closer relationship with the Father, then we have wasted our time. There will be others who will assist us along our journey and spark new and deeper understandings, but the Holy Spirit is our Teacher, and will He confirm all truth and distortion to which we are exposed.

    If we continually leave spiritual gatherings feeling “flat†and unfulfilled (whether or not falsely stirred emotionally by polished performances), then we need to reconsider where we are being “fed†and by whom. Always keep in mind that a “shepherd” never wishes to lose any of his working capital; that is going to affect his bottom line — his budget !!!

  15. Dave June 9, 2007 at 6:22 am

    Years ago the I left a very controlling church. When others called me to ask what they should also do, I gave the advice of, “keep your eyes on the LORD and your eyes on the door!”

    Dave

  16. Dave June 9, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Years ago the I left a very controlling church. When others called me to ask what they should also do, I gave the advice of, “keep your eyes on the LORD and your eyes on the door!”

    Dave

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