The word pastor has been taken captive and redefined by the elite to bolster their position. Once we complete our investigation, it should be clear that in the true sense, every Christian should be a pastor.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; Ephesians 4:11

Most people will be surprised this is the only reference to pastor in the New Testament. There are a few in the Old Testament, none of which gives a clear understanding of the criteria for being a pastor. This should concern us as to how this has become such a preeminent position along with many other words taken hostage to bolster ecclesiastical elitism such as ordination, preaching, shepherding, etc.

Pastor (Webster 1828)

A shepherd; one that has the care of flocks and herds. A minister of the gospel who has the charge of a church and congregation, whose duty is to watch over the people of his charge, and instruct them in the sacred doctrines of the Christian religion.

Webster’s definition for pastor was made in 1828 when the cultural solidification of preeminence in the pastoral position was engrained for over 1,300 years. Nowhere in the Bible does it refer to a pastor as being a shepherd. The shepherd has always been Jesus and only Jesus. The sheep hear his voice and not the voice of some imposter trying to get into the sheepfold by a different way than the gate, whose gatekeeper is also Jesus.

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15

As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee. Jeremiah 17:16

There are only two references in the Old Testament concerning good pastors. Neither of them provides a definitive understanding of their “credentials”.  These references have no indication that a pastor was in a position of preeminence over others. A good pastor like the prophet Jeremiah was one who followed God, not one who sought for the people to follow him. Rather, they were facilitators, communicating to the Jews the truth that would guide them to God and onto a path of righteousness. Throughout the Old Testament you see the Jews going the right way if led by God and the wrong way when led by man. Unfortunately, most pastors of today hasten to have others follow them and suppress the people from truly following the Lord.

How a pastor is to be selected is made clear when God tells us they are given according to his heart, not the hearts of men. Today’s pastors are selected according to man’s criteria. Many must go through extensive education, such as going through a seminary. Then there are other hoops to jump through. Finally, a church official commissions the candidate to pastor a church, or other church organizations have a candidate go through a selection process and are then voted upon. The result is a man-selected preeminent pastor and not a true servant pastor.

The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. Jeremiah 2:8

For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered. Jeremiah 10:21

Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. Jeremiah 12:10

The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness. Jeremiah 22:22

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1-2

The above verses are the only ones in the Old Testament concerning bad pastors. They seem to give a clear picture of preeminence. These were false messengers able to get the Jews to follow them rather than God. These supposed messengers of God led the Jews onto a path of falsehood, a path of wickedness, transgression, brutishness, barrenness, evil, and the lack of true unselfish compassion.

7For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. 9Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law. 10Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? 17Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? Malachi 2:7-10,17

Malachi reveals a parallel in the Old Testament between bad pastors and bad priests. Whenever you are not following God, in his way, then there will be distortions and compromises.

I will often refer to how simple God has made it for us to walk in his way. That is how it is with being a pastor. In the true sense of the word, both men and women can be facilitators within the assembly of believers: speaking the truth, watching out for falsehoods, having compassion, finding ways to bring understanding and knowledge to young and old. In the true sense, every believer should be a pastor; no special certificate or education required; no “ordination”, no special garments to wear; just being a child of God and looking out for one’s fellow believers is all it takes.

If you facilitate within the body of believers, then you are a good pastor. If not, then you are a detriment, like the scripture portrayal of bad priests and bad pastors. No one should be a pastor in the preeminent sense; this is a fake pastor, an elitist fabrication for the purpose of usurping the preeminence of Jesus Christ.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15

29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:29-30

When believers are gathered in Jesus’ name and where the assembly is controlled by Jesus, then it is Jesus who selects the pastors according to his heart, not some ecclesiastical authority. These pastors will facilitate the believers, look out for them, and try to protect them from ravaging sheep stealing wolves. They do not try to usurp the preeminency of Jesus by morphing into wolves to steal his sheep.

A true pastor is one who fulfills a duty for that gathering. Most of the time he would be indistinguishable from the rest of the flock.  But, under the control of Jesus the pastor would serve like a stealthy sheepdog, helping to keep the flock on the path that Jesus is taking them, and standing ready to confront those thieving robbing wolves. He would not try to monopolize the gathering by being the only sheep to be bleating while all the others are muzzled. Instead, he would do his best to make sure each voice was heard, so the entire assembly could benefit from the Holy Spirit’s work.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6

Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: III John 1:6

With pastors properly doing their work, the entire flock will grow to be a mighty voice in the world. Every man would become more and more polished in communicating the Gospel, not just a tiny few that are on the stage week after week, thus making everyone else weak. With full reliance upon Jesus, true pastors would do their best to bring other Christians forward on their walk with God, making sure everyone became seasoned (salt) veterans.

Sadly, after the early church period and the period of heavy persecution, the freedom to worship, under the Emperor Constantine, came with an invasion of preeminency. The most widespread titling for those in preeminence was the usage of priest which continues to this day in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. The title of pastor has a varied history but is almost universal among Protestant churches. This title has helped legitimize the wolves that ravage God’s flock.

 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:29-30

The Apostle Paul predicted the rise of preeminency although he probably never imagined how solidified it would become during those 1,600 years. Paul was not one to sugar coat an issue. He affirms that all preeminent pastors are grievous wolves because they are usurping the preeminency of Jesus Christ and stealing away his sheep. And they accomplish this by speaking perverse things, either from their own desire or in support of the preeminent church establishment.

Perverse (Webster 1828)

Literally, turned aside; hence, distorted from the right. Obstinate in the wrong; disposed to be contrary; stubborn; untractable.

Like Paul, if you want to be a part of this critical reformation, you must be firm concerning those who are distorting Biblical truth to maintain the status quo. You can only do this by affirming that all preeminent pastors are bad pastors. That does not mean they are devious evil hell-bound people. Most of them are caught in this perverse system and need help to become unshackled. Paulo Freire talks heavily of bringing an awareness of this dilemma through the praxis, where you are not dealing with reformation as a theory but are engaged in a course of action to bring about a deep and personal reflection which can then lead to a transformation.

Most pastors will undoubtedly resist both reflection and transformation. Once you have had a taste of preeminent power, it is difficult to surrender, especially if attaining it required much sacrifice, and the rewards have been substantial. Only God can open their eyes and provide the means to fully surrender to the preeminence of Jesus Christ.

To further our reflection, let us take a general look at the damaging effect of preeminent pastors, focusing on the 20th and early 21st centuries. This damage will certainly continue unless the church goes through a reformation that will bring Christians together with Jesus in complete control.

Two intertwined elements stand out that perpetuate the damage: the lack of equality and the lack of dialogue. If these two elements were resurrected from the catacombs, ecclesiastical elitism would disintegrate and become a hideous relic of the past.

Pastors will dialogue with you one on one, but always from an elevated position. During their sermonizing, dialogue is virtually nonexistent. When teaching, there might occasionally be an awkward exchange, but there too from a pastorally elevated position.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; II Timothy 4:3

The pulpit gives a sense that the pastor behind it is a conduit for God and his word. In reality it acts more as a shield to hide behind, a shield that allows them to mix truth with error with virtually no accountability. Often, a pastor’s words hold more weight than the Bible itself, especially where it soothes someone’s unrighteousness. Any individual protest is usually in private and can be easily dismissed. If an error is revealed, it is rarely publicly corrected.

Most pastors hate dialogue because of the fear of having their gnostic preeminence challenged. If you have been one to ever challenge a pastor, you might have had the unfortunate experience of seeing a pastor morph from one you always assumed to have a sweet disposition to something bordering on the demonic.

10Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. I Corinthians 1:10-11

That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:6

Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. II Corinthians 13:11

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; Philippians 1:27

Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Philippians 2:2

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. I Peter 3:8-9

In most cases, the preeminent ones think that being of “one mind”; having the “same mind” means everyone should conform to their mind on things. This attitude is reinforced by preaching and teaching without dialogue, forcing their mind onto those within their domain.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:5

Because they monopolize the elevated pulpit, they utilize that power to convince everyone that they have the “mind of Christ” and that is why everyone should listen to and follow them. They want everyone to believe that they are the conduit for God speaking to them; that their teaching and preaching has directly come from God. This attitude and action are directly counter to scripture for it is Christ’s mind that all are to conform to.

1Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. I Peter 4:1-6

The above is a partial list concerning the mind of Christ. That “mind” is not the mind of the pastor, elder, pope, or anyone else. It is the mind of Christ, that is tied directly to God’s revelation to each believer through the scriptures, requiring no intercessor.

Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation. Luke 20:46-47

Whether willingly or subliminally, pastors tend to far more emulate the scribes than suffering servants. Their ecclesiastical position automatically puts them into this elite status.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Romans 12:3

6And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. 7For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? 18Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 19But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. I Corinthians 4:6-7, 18-19

When believers, like myself, have ignorantly fallen into a position or in support of preeminence, it is understandable. When a sin is revealed is where the divide begins. Those remorseful, will fall to their knees in repentance before a forgiving God. Those who refuse to let go of their sin, set themselves on a course where the grace of God does not dwell. No one who calls himself a Christian should ever want to reside there.

Those who maintain their preeminence must work at it, which requires distancing themselves from being equal with those in a fellowship. One way is by “spoon feeding” them or just providing the milk of the word. This helps maintain their “higher knowledge” thus elevating them above those considered Biblically ignorant. Unfortunately, too many in our churches are happy with this arrangement as it alleviates them from any important responsibility.

Pastors have many ways of separating themselves from other Christians to help establish their preeminence. Here are some common elements that might be employed.

  • Names prominently displayed in various places: billboards, on banners over a church entrance, in bulletins, on church business cards, on websites, etc.
  • Ecclesiastical or fine garments that make them stand out: a Roman (white) collar on a black shirt; very fine clothing; robes; elaborate headwear; elaborate shawls; certain religious jewelry, etc.
  • Use of titles such as pastor, father, reverend, padre, superior, and eminence.
  • Prominent person presiding over a church service, funerals, marriages, baptisms, confirmations, dedications, and communions.
  • Prominent one to dispense counseling services.
  • Primary person who prays or is looked upon to pray within an assembly.
  • Person requiring permission for most endeavors within the fellowship.
  • Often conduct their activities from an elevated position that lends itself to elitism. This could be on an elevated platform or when standing on the same level where everyone else is seated.
  • Dictating the entire service with full obedience expected: when to sit, when and what to sing, when to kneel, when to pray, when and what to recite, when to listen to the prepared speech, when to greet those around you, when to give funds to the church, when to listen to announcements, and finally, when to leave.

The damage increases as the pastor becomes more and more confident on stage. The speeches usually get better, the voice more confident, the ease of conducting marriages, funerals, communions, dedications, etc. all become activities that display increasingly honed skills. For the churches of today that sounds like a good thing that should help draw bigger and bigger crowds to a more professional performance.

However, what about those who have been muzzled through the decades? They become less and less confident as their pastor becomes more professional. This elevates the pastor’s position to become more and more above reproach and diminishes the body of believers into a position of subservience rather than the state of equality. As the memberships increase, the preeminent elite see this as an affirmation that God is blessing their ministry. The bigger the church, especially those reaching mega-church status, elevates the preeminent pastor to an almost worshipful status. Some have private planes or helicopters, separating them more and more from the persons who adore them.

This lust for bigger and bigger crowds comes with a watered-down Gospel, resulting in a flood of tares. These unbelievers become integrated into the church organization and have a powerful effect upon Biblical truth, profoundly impacting any chance of a true Christian fellowship.

The bigger the church, the more fellowship is diminished. Hospitality becomes almost non-existent and the concept of Christians being closer than one’s own family becomes a fantasy. These mega-pastors are the Christian rock stars that virtually every preeminent person aspires to become, with the same adoring mass following. Their intentions might appear noble and sound extremely righteousness but at the expense of relegating Jesus Christ into the shadows no matter how professionally their bands or choirs sing his praises.

The only way a preeminent pastor can function in that capacity is to have a following. This is where those who remain within the domain of ecclesiastical preeminence are culpable, enabling that system to flourish.

… O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. Isaiah 3:12

4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. John 10:4-5

Every Christian should recognize the voices of illegitimate preeminence and flee from those destructive wolves. Our ears need to be attentive to the voice of Jesus, the only preeminent one, and follow him.

Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. Luke 9:46-48

This concept of greatness is certainly not followed by preeminent pastors. They take all the steps to polish their skills at the expense of those sheep they have stolen from Jesus and immediately muzzled. They become more and more elevated while everyone else is diminished. This divide keeps widening as time goes on. At times they pretend to be inclusive by passing the microphone around for others to speak. But it becomes awkward, as so many stumble with their words, making most everyone wish they would give the stage back to the “professional”. This ends up displaying other’s deficiencies helping to elevate the elite more and more.

The preeminent ones become more and more refined in their apologetics as they monopolize the stage or platform. The congregation sits muzzled and might gain some knowledge from the preeminent ones but end up lacking the skills to comfortably convey their Christian worldview to those around them. By being mere spectators, they have had their apologetics suppressed. And without those skill they can never confidently and clearly reach out to those who are lost. This should never be the case.

The preeminent hill of achievement, no matter how notable, is at the expense of crushing the potential of the body of believers. Rather, a true pastor would help facilitate every member’s apologetics which can only happen if they are unmuzzled. Preeminent pastors monopolize the time that should be for all; in a sense stealing time from them and the Holy Spirit’s work through them.

There is a parallel in the Old Testament concerning distorting the truth that lends itself to following that which is evil.

7For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice. 8Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not. Jeremiah 11:7-8

Through the ages, those who have usurped the preeminence of Jesus Christ have redefined Biblical terms like “pastor” according to their imagination. Those who are exposed to the Biblical teachings that condemn preeminence yet still refuse to incline their ear to the truth are the ones with an evil heart. They will continue to usurp Christ’s position as head of his flock, putting their imagination over the will of God.