Due to events too close to home (no details, just pray), my attention has been drawn to the various ways a church can start to dishonor Christ--ways that really seem to be too numerous to count. There is one Way that we can get it right--the faithful preaching and teaching of the Gospel and the whole counsel of God--and when one ignores that one way, there are infinite ways one can go wrong.
That said, one of the more pervasive ways a church can go wrong is if the pastor starts to see himself as a cowboy rather than as a shepherd. That is, he sees the congregation as cattle to be driven from Texas to Kansas--Texas of course being an emblem for "Hell," as General Sheridan noted. (If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas.....sometimes Mark Twain gets credit/blame, too).
While leaving Hell (or Texas?) is commendable, the trouble is that the word "pastor" means not "cowboy," but rather "shepherd," and as a rule, you do not "drive" sheep anywhere. Those who try quickly find that they scatter--just as sheep will scatter without a shepherd, as the Scripture notes.
So how do pastors act the part of the cowboy? Well, again, there are nearly infinite ways they can do this, but it all starts, in my mind, when we substitute the ways of our world (where managers and government leaders all too often are allowed to play the old Texas cowboy), assuming that since it seems to work for our favorite corporate or political leaders, it'll work in the church.
It is appeal to authority and, by and large, micromanagement, and it has terrible spiritual results--as we would expect when we take a look at Luke 22, especially verse 25 and thereafter. Those who claim the name of Christ are to be radically different than the world, and one great way to start is by remembering that the greatest among us is to be the servant of all. I'll be going into the tragic results of "cowboy" or "my way or the highway" leadership over the next few days. I hope you will be blessed and edified.
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