Written by Matthew Laney
"It has been reported to me that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. Each of you says, 'I belong to Paul', or 'I belong to Apollos', or 'I belong to Peter.' Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?" - 1 Corinthians 1: 11-13
People in the First Church of Corinth had succumbed to cults of personality. Some strutted about claiming allegiance to Pastor Apollos, some to Pastor Peter, others to Pastor Paul, forgetting that pastors are called to point beyond themselves to Christ. To focus on the pastor is to miss the point of the pastor.
Thank goodness we've gotten over that. Surely no one in your church has the current or former minister on a pedestal so high they block out the cross. If so, you might get a testy email from Paul, similar to the letter he wrote to the cultish Corinthians, saying,"Can Christ be divided? Have any of the leaders you put above Christ died and been raised to new life for you? Were you baptized in their name?"
Your pastor (or their predecessor, or their predecessor's predecessor) might be the most amazing minister ever to grace God's church. As wonderful as they are, they did not die for you and for the sin of the world. You were not baptized in their name. You were baptized in the name above every name, the one who is the true Lord and head of your church.
Far more important than worship attendance and giving, your minister's ability to point beyond herself to Jesus, and follow his lead, is the best measure of success.
Jesus, let my church profess you as Lord and help us support our pastor's call to point to you.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.