So, Paul addressed this cliquishness which so afflicts carnal and shallow church members.
“Who is Paul? And who is Apollos? They’re only ministers (servants) whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” (I Corinthians 3:5-6).
He continued, “We are God’s fellow-workers. You are God’s field, God’s building…. I laid the foundation, and another built on it… But Jesus Christ is everything.” (My paraphrase of I Corinthians 3:9-11.)
We’re all in this together. We are team members. We each need the other.
Sometimes we are the darling, sometimes we’re the one left on the sideline.
If YOU are another pastor, you are the star, the Apollos of your town:
You’re young and dynamic, the new pastor in town. All the churches around you are being led by older men, settled, perhaps a little boring. The field belongs to you, and you eat it up. Crowds flock to hear you preach, teens adore you, and you’re asked to serve on the Chamber and speak to the civic clubs and join most of them.
You’re tempted to believe their acclaim. To think there’s no one else like you. That the other pastors are failures, and you alone are faithful.
Take a deep breath. It’s a passing fancy. Soon, the crowd will move along to the next flash in the pan. You will not be young and gorgeous forever. Your balloon will burst and you will stand on the sidelines watching your members chase after the next ministerial attraction. You will remember when you were the phenomenon and hope that you were gracious to the other ministers. (If it sounds like I’ve been there and done that, yes.)
Read Acts 14 and take a lesson from Barnabas and Paul. After healing a man in Lystra, the crowds made these two apostles their champions. “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” they cheered. As they brought animals to sacrifice before them and garlands to place on their heads, it was all Paul and Barnabas could do to stop this madness.
It wasn’t to last. Not even two hours, it didn’t!
An hour or two later, troublemakers from the last town Barnabas and Paul had visited arrived to attack and slander them. The same crowd that wanted to worship them now gathered stones to kill them. “They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead” (14:19).
So much for the adulation of the crowd. Fickle is hardly strong enough a word.
So, when they make you their idol, don’t let it go to your head. Do your work. Keep your eyes on Jesus. It’ll soon pass. Never forget that the crowd that cried “Hosanna!” to Jesus on the first day of the week was calling “Crucify Him!” five days later.
If you are the one on the sidelines watching the new darling take your town by storm:
Pray for him. Speak well of him. Be very careful not to appear jealous or small-minded.
Do not envy him or resent him. Appreciate the good he’s doing. Look for things to compliment if you can. Put in a good word for him with another pastor, some of whom may be seething with envy or suspicion or resentment.
Do your job. If you are losing members to the new guy, keep telling yourself (and your leaders who may be panicking at the empty pews and low offerings), “This is not about us, but about the Lord Jesus. And if they’re doing a better job over there, then let’s pray for them and encourage them.”