A recent CNN headline proclaims:
The televangelist in question is Jesse Duplantis, leader of Jesse Duplantis Ministries out of Louisiana. He apparently owns three other jets as well. (It’s hard to get by with just one, after all.)
In response, my friend Drew McIntyre hit the nail on the head on Twitter:
News stories like the one referenced above are neither uncommon nor surprising. That doesn’t make them any less tragic, however. Among the more tragic elements of these stories is that they overshadow the work of millions of very faithful pastors around the word.
Over the years I have worked with hundreds, maybe thousands, of pastors. Based on my experience, here are some headlines that CNN or any other news outlet could publish every day if they wanted to portray accurately the lives of the vast majority of pastors:
Pastor holds hand of dying woman as she passes into eternity
Pastor comforts bereaved family after the suicide of their son
Pastor up until 2:00 a.m. on the phone with parishioner in crisis
Pastor preaches only positive message the teens in the congregation will hear all week
Pastor works 50 hour week at secular job while overseeing two country churches
Pastor consistently visits man in hospital whose family has never checked up on him
Pastor tithes income from church back to church
Pastor teaches children to live for others, and not simply themselves
Pastor speaks to congregation about difficult issues of racial justice (or school shootings, or acts of terrorism, or…)
Pastor walks alongside young man through journey out of addiction
Pastor spends Saturday morning working with homeless
Pastor helps to raise money to provide relief for people in Haiti
Pastor leads mission to dig wells in Africa
And, most importantly,
Pastor leads people into saving relationship with Jesus Christ
Do you want to know what the life of most pastors is like? It is a life of love and sacrifice. It is a life lived in service to God and others.
I have no illusions that media coverage of the church will change. I know that flamboyant peddlers of false gospels will always make headlines and thereby undermine the work of those truly committed to the message of Jesus Christ.
And even still, women and men will give their lives to God in Christian service through pastoral ministry. The ministry of Jesus Christ will continue among people who will never appear in a CNN headline, and who don’t want to. Dedicated pastors will continue to seek and save the lost.
In the next few months, there will probably be another headline about a flamboyant preacher who has done something ridiculous. And then a few months after that, more of the same. Don’t lose heart. That is the nature of the broken world in which we live. When these things happen, use your social media platform to lift up the good work of faithful pastors around the world. People will pay attention, and in the process you will testify to the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ.
If you have any headlines you’d like to add to the list I’ve created, please do so below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.