I’m tempted to be a worldly pastor. You may be too.
I used to think that worldliness is about smoking, rock music, and R-rated movies. Worldliness lurks closer than those things. It’s operating according to values that are opposed to God. It’s about adopting standards that don’t line up with God’s.
All of our churches are tempted to be worldly. Every single one. And every pastor is tempted by worldliness too.
That’s why John writes to the church in Ephesus. He warns them of this danger. “Do not love the world or the things in the world,” John warns us. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
He even gets specific and mentions three dangers:
- The desires of the flesh — Chasing after things that matter only in this life but not for eternity
- The desires of the eyes — Focusing on how things look rather than on the things that really matter
- The pride of life — Putting confidence in ourselves; wanting to outshine others
Some of the most renowned churches and pastors have succumbed to these dangers. I know I have. I’m tempted to measure my actions based on how it will advance my career, what people will think of me, or how it will help me feel significant.
You don’t need to go to a bar or strip club to find worldliness. You just need to go to the closest pastor’s conference. If you’re like me, you don’t even need to go that far. You just need to look within.
The solution? To realize that what we’re chasing won’t last. “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever,” John writes.
One day the size of my church won’t matter. One day it won’t matter how many followers I had on social media, or what people thought of me. One day it won’t matter how much I advanced in my ministry compared to others.
Honestly, none of this even matters now.
What matters is doing the will of God. The pastor who does the will of God, no matter how obscure or seemingly unsuccessful, will abide forever.
I’m a recovering worldly pastor. I’m tempted to care about the things that don’t really matter. God help us all to ignore distractions and to focus on the one thing that matters most: doing God’s will.