It is natural that in life we have role models from the time we are very young. Often these are our parents or other people very close to us.
This, however, is not confined to the domestic space.
People also have role models in their teachers or in prominent public personalities, and these include pastors.
The question is: when it comes to a man of God, is there anything wrong in having them as a role model?
I believe not. In fact, this has Biblical precedence. The Apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 11:1, wrote to the congregation: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
If my pastor is an imitator of Christ, according to the Biblical pattern, then there should be nothing wrong in imitating him.
We are to appreciate our men of God because they are God’s gifts to us given to edify the body of Christ.
Of course one may argue that the scripture quoted above is in reference to character rather than outward appearances like dress. But personally, I don’t think merely emulating my pastor’s dress style means I am idolizing him!
Idolatry is far more than these outward appearances. It is a spiritual sin. It is like pride. Sometimes you may think a person is pride because they appear so in their bearing. But one may look pride when inside, they are humble.
Recently, I chanced upon a facebook debate raising issues like having a pastor’s prayer in tongues as a ringing tone as well as having wall papers and church calendars bearing the face of the pastor or church founder. Do these things mean we are idolizing our pastors?
I would say not necessarily. What matters is the attitude of the user. The Bible says God looks at the heart. If I have a calendar from my church in my home, what’s wrong with that? Would it be wrong, then, to have a calendar of, say, my company as well?
There is a problem, however, when our attention shifts away from God to our pastors. Recently a colleague told me of a friend whose child fell sick at midnight and when she brought the child in contact with a calendar from church, the child was healed instantly.
It is a cause for concern if that particular friend starts to focus on the calendar and the one (pastor) whose image it bears as the source of healing. God must always be acknowledged as the source of healing even if the healing power is transmitted through physical images.
The Bible shows that the anointing can be transferred through physical agents, which is why handkerchiefs used by the apostles could transmit healing to the sick even in the absence of the apostles themselves (Acts 19:12).
Admittedly, extremes abound. People go to church for different reasons. Some are seeking the Lord while some of course have ulterior motives. Among these are those who are perhaps seeking the pastor and not the Lord as the Bible commands. It’s just like that “mixed multitude” from Egypt that followed the children of Israel from Egypt and caused them all sorts of problems in the wilderness.
In as much as our pastors are called to minister to us, God’s will is for his every child to hear his voice personally. Our pastors are merely vessels that are used of the Lord. The Bible says “there was a man sent from God whose his name was John” (John 1:6). God still sends men today. These are our pastors.