Recent articles and issues in the news have caused me to revisit my commitment. Paul is very clear in Titus 1:7 that an elder is to be above reproach. In other words, there is a standard above which elders must exist, live, and minister if they are to continue serving in the position of elder. I have been disheartened recently to read comments from leaders talking of “pastor speak” when referring to exaggerations or flat out lies told by pastors in the course of their sermons. This is unacceptable and ungodly.
The pastor is to be above reproach in everything that he says and does to the best of his ability. For this reason, it is essential that a pastor be a person of integrity in his sermons and sermon illustrations as well as at every other aspect of his life. Pastor, you do not have the privilege of exaggerating your personal stories of holiness or sin to make a point for your sermon. You have a responsibility to be true to God’s word and honest about yourself. Phillips Brooks famously said that preaching is truth through personality. If your sermons are laced with lies and exaggerations about your own experiences and life stories, you are giving neither truth nor personality.
Pastors, are we honest people? Do we take this concept of “above reproach” seriously in all that we say and do. Do we perpetuate exaggerations and untruths with the awarding of “honorary doctorates” and the constant use of the term to men who have not studied and earned a degree (for the record, I’m not saying honorary doctorates are bad, just asking the question of whether or not the use of those titles is in keeping with the above reproach command)? Do we encourage men to continue living their lies when we hear sermons of exaggeration and do not call those exaggerations into question. Are we demanding honesty about worship attendance numbers and baptisms, and conversions. So long as the church allows men who lead to do so in a way that does not call up the highest level of integrity, the church will be maligned and the spread of the gospel will be hindered.
Pastors, we must strive to be above reproach and we must call our brothers to strive alongside us, for the good of the church and for the sake of the gospel.