Director of Church Strengthening, Converge North Central
While having lunch with a friend, I found myself drawing on a napkin as I illustrated my growing conviction that the key factor to a thriving congregation filled with flourishing people is a healthy pastor. He made the astute observation that many of the items that receive a great deal of energy and fill a pastor’s calendar contribute to being an unhealthy pastor.
One of the things many chase, (and not just pastors) is prestige. In our social media saturated society, there’s no shortage of data points we can gather concerning other pastors and ministries. Maybe you are familiar with the quote “Comparison is the death of contentment.” But we often find ourselves dissatisfied when we compare what we have and what we do to what someone else has or does.
Have you considered the danger in chasing too much prestige?
It’s our human nature to seek bigger and better. We’re bombarded with messages in a variety of mediums which tells us to chase the flashier, the bigger, the more prestigious. In our church world, the extreme is the “celebrity pastor.” You may not be chasing the same resume' as a celebrity pastor, but who wouldn’t want more public recognition for their preaching skills, desire a stronger and more polished online presence, wish some national magazine would print their article, be invited to speak at a conference, or have their church and ministry recognized for something they do? Read the definition of prestige. Is there a word that jumps out, or even surprises you?
prestige - noun: widespread respect and admiration,
felt for someone or something,
on the basis of a perception
of their achievements or quality
Perception. Prestige is based on perception!
It’s no coincidence that the Latin word for prestige is praestigiae, which means an illusion or a mirage.
Have you ever held back from trying something because you were afraid of what you might lose? Have you ever passed on an opportunity because you were waiting for a more prestigious one? Why might you be more inclined to dialogue with a pastoral search team at “troubled” large church with many programs in the cool part of town versus a healthy church in a smaller more rural setting?
Beware of chasing prestige.
What should we be chasing?
First and foremost, we should be chasing God. That sounds like the “Sunday School” answer because it is the best and most important answer. Chasing God is about taking the time to ask yourself who or what you are pursuing first and foremost. It’s then deciding to put your time, energy, and heart in getting closer to Him. It’s letting God define your prestige. It’s going all-in and trusting the One who has called you to this time and place and gifted you to serve, shepherd, and lead.
Perhaps you know of Andrew Peterson. Many know him as an author who has written novel’s in the vein of Tolkien and Lewis. His book, Adorning the Dark was listed as a top book of 2019 by both Christianity Today and The Gospel Coalition. I first stumbled upon Peterson years ago through his music. One of his early songs that caught my attention was The Chasing Song. I think it fits well to the idea of what are we chasing. Listen and enjoy!