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 â€˜least to the greatestâ€™ of them, â€˜all will know me.â€™ Listening to God and following him is not what the mature folks get to do; itâ€™s what he asked all of us to do. Those who lead donâ€™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:
â€œDonâ€™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 heâ€™s in heaven. And donâ€™t let people maneuver you into taking charge of of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and themâ€”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 doesnâ€™t make it true. In fact, I think the more closely you follow him, the less youâ€™ll fit into the religious constructs of the day, because they are meant to conform people, not to free them to life in him.
Iâ€™m sorry for the flack youâ€™re getting, but this is just part of the journey. Keep loving them and loving him, but donâ€™t think you have to conform to their expectations to love them. God has invited us to something so much better.