Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Excerpt from Pagan Christianity?, Part 1

From Pagan Christianity? By Frank Viola


The pastoral office has a way of chewing up many who come within its parameters. Depression, burnout, stress, and emotional breakdown occur at abnormally high rates among pastor.

Many pastors are expected to juggle sixteen major tasks at once. And many crumble under the pressure.

Unfortunately, few pastors have connected the dots to discover that it is their office that causes this underlying turbulence. Simply put: Jesus Christ never intended any person to sport all the hats a present-day pastor is expected to wear. He never intended any one person to bear such a load.

The demands of the pastorate are crushing; they will drain any mortal dry. Imagine for a moment that you were working for a company that paid you on the basis of how good you made your people feel. What if your pay depended on how entertaining you were, how friendly you were, how popular your wife and children were, how well-dressed you were, and how perfect your behavior was?

Can you imagine the unmitigated stress this would cause you? Can you see how such pressure would force you into playing a pretentious role – all to keep your authority, your prestige, and your job security? For this reason, many pastors are resistant to receiving any kind of help.

The pastoral profession dictates standards of conduct like any other profession, whether it is teacher, doctor, or lawyer. The profession dictates how pastors are to dress, speak, and act. This is one of the major reasons why many pastors live very artificial lives.

In this regard, the pastoral role fosters dishonesty. Congregants expect their pastor to always be cheerful, completely spiritual, and available at a moment’s call. They also expect that he will have a perfectly disciplined family. Furthermore, he should never appear resentful or bitter. Many pastors take to this role like actors in a Greek drama.

Based on the scores of personal testimonies we have heard from erstwhile pastors, many- if not most – cannot stay in their office without being corrupted on some level. The power-politics endemic to the office is a huge problem that isolates many of them and poisons their relationship with others.

…God never intended for anyone to be at the top – except His Son! In effect, the present-day pastor tries to shoulder fifty-eight New Testament “one another” exhortations all by himself. It is no wonder that many of them get crushed under the weight.

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