The Pastor: CEO or Shepherd?

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Kansas City, Missouri

February 11, 2015

Pastor Rolf Preus



When I was a first year seminarian at Concordia Theological Seminary, my wife got a job as a teller at a bank in downtown Springfield, Illinois.  They taught her how to spot a counterfeit.  In teaching her how to do so they did not show her any counterfeit money.  Instead, they taught her how to identify the genuine article.  Features that will always be present and are difficult to fake will separate the genuine from the counterfeit.  This is a good procedure to follow in distinguishing genuine pastors from counterfeit pastors as well.  God’s word establishes for us what the pastoral office is and what the pastor does.  If we know what the genuine article is we will be well positioned to identify counterfeits when they come along.


Still, it is good to contrast the genuine with the counterfeit in order to bring into bold relief what makes the genuine genuine.  The topic assigned to me is: The Pastor: CEO or Shepherd?  The answer is obvious.  A pastor and a shepherd are the same thing.  So the question is not really whether a pastor is a CEO or a shepherd.  He is a shepherd.  The question is whether the office of pastor of a Christian congregation and the office of chief executive officer of a corporation are sufficiently similar in form that we can take the essence of the pastoral office and place it within the parameters of the office of CEO.  If we do so, will the pastoral office still be the pastoral office?


Those who have adopted – more than that, eagerly embraced – the corporate model for the ministry of the word may not have done so with the intent of changing the substance of the church or her ministry.  Perhaps they believe that traditional forms of church and ministry are inadequate to meet the challenges of the church today and that they can meet those challenges by changing the form but retaining the substance of the pastoral office.  Is that possible?  Can we borrow the methods, arrangements, forms, and strategies used in the business world, law, politics, or the entertainment industry, baptize them for Christian use, and then use them in service to Christ and his church?  Or, does the very nature of the ministry of the church require that it assume a certain form?


American Evangelicalism has always been open to new forms of ministry.  From early in the 19th century to today, the evolution of traditional Calvinism into an optimistic entrepreneurial revivalism transformed Protestantism into something distinctively American.  From the “new measures” of the famous revivalist Charles Finney in the 19th century to the principles on how you can become a better you that Joel Osteen sells in the 21st century, pop-Protestantism adapts its form to fit the American culture.  It is pull yourself up by your bootstraps theology, rooted in the doctrine of the free will.  Within the plethora of new and evolving forms of church and ministry, there is a predictable sameness to it all.  It is that God is glorified by our spiritual advancement.  The greatest good in American evangelicalism is not what is preached to us.  It is what is achieved in us.  The minister’s success is visible.


The intrusion of revivalism into our conservative Lutheran congregations took a long time.  Our strong doctrinal emphasis on the total depravity of man and justification by grace alone through faith alone prevented twisting the gospel into a “how to” formula for personal success.  The historic Lutheran emphasis on the pure teaching of the gospel and the right administration of the sacraments provided both the substance and the form for the pastoral office.  But during the twentieth century, the assault against the Lutheran doctrine of the ministry intensified. 


During the 1960’s, change for the sake of change became the new orthodoxy in just about every area of life.  Architecture, music, art, politics, and the church were all affected.  Conservative Christians adopted the slogan, “A changeless Christ for a changing world,” while Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a changin’.”  The church was told to accommodate to the change or become irrelevant.  As the me generation began their torturous journey through adolescence, the prevailing opinion among theological trendsetters was that the world set the theological agenda for the church.  In fact, “The World Sets the Agenda” was the official slogan of the 1968 meeting of the World Council of Church in Uppsala, Sweden.  After the parents of the post-World War II baby boomers pampered their children right out the doors of the church, their spiritual concerns – such as they were – then became the concerns of churchmen who sought to package the substance of Christianity in forms that would appeal to an increasingly secularized and alienated youth.  The popular culture was transformed.  Traditional authority and its supporting institutions came under attack.  The church was a target.  The doctrinal deterioration of mainstream American Protestantism left them flatfooted in the face of this assault.


Conservative Lutheran church bodies such as the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod suffered as well.  They had doctrinal substance to offer in the place of the theologically vacuous social gospel that had taken over the large liberal church bodies, but they also had suffered the effects of the radical democratization of American culture.  Long before the social rebellion of the sixties, with its moral relativism and rejection of traditional authority, these conservative Lutherans had already begun to move away from the traditional Lutheran teaching on the pastoral office.


All four Gospels clearly teach in the post-resurrection accounts of Christ’s appearing to his disciples that he established the pastoral office by sending out the first pastors to do what all subsequent Christian pastors were to do: teach the gospel and administer the sacraments.  This is the teaching of the Lutheran Confessions.  This is the teaching of the Lutheran dogmatic tradition from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, from Martin Chemnitz all the way through C. F. W. Walther, Adolf Hoenecke, and their contemporaries. 


During the twentieth century, a democratic doctrine that we might call the representative ministry view gradually took hold among conservative Lutherans in America.  This opinion has the pastoral office coming into existence, not by the Lord Jesus sending out the apostles as the church’s first pastors, but by the Christians delegating to the pastors the right to do publicly what the Christians do privately.  Thus, the pastoral office is formed by the church.  Naturally, if the office is formed by the church instead of by Christ there will be quarrels over what form the office will take.  The Missouri Synod taught that the pastoral office we had inherited from our fathers was the divinely fixed form of the office while the Wisconsin Synod taught that there was no divinely fixed form of the office.  It assumed various forms according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the Missouri Synod gradually moved in the direction of the Wisconsin Synod.  The office became ever more amorphous.  Of course, the Holy Spirit got the credit for all the new forms of office designed to meet the challenges of the day.


Just when we needed, more than ever before, an authoritative pastoral office to meet the fierce attack against doctrinal authority of any kind, we were left with pastors whose office came, not from Christ who has all authority in heaven and on earth, but from men whose itching ears need to be scratched.


This is the context in which we live and it is from within this religious climate that we must consider the topic before us today.  I propose to ask and then to answer on the basis of the Holy Scriptures three questions about the pastor of a Christian congregation and then to ask and answer the same three questions about the chief executive officer of a corporation.  The three questions are: First, what is the purpose of this office?  Second, by what standards are they to be judged?  Third, under what authority do they do their work?


Jesus is the good shepherd, the pastor and bishop of our souls.  The good shepherd determines the purpose of the pastoral office.  He, who did not come to be ministered unto but to minister, defines for us what his ministry is.  Jesus says that we have pastors to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments that give us the forgiveness of our sins and save us.  The words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20 and 21 show that all four Gospels teach the same thing concerning the purpose of the pastoral office.  In St. Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus tells his ministers to teach all nations.  We read in the King James Version:


Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. 


The modern translation, “make disciples of all nations” is the unfortunate product of translators who know Greek better than they know English.  There are two different words for teach in this sentence, with the first use being the verbal form of the noun disciple.  This word for teach does not lay on the teacher the burden of seeing to it that his teaching makes someone into something.  To make disciples of suggests that the teaching of the teacher must reach its goal for the teacher to have done his job.  But the success of the pastor’s teaching does not lie in his hands.  The teacher teaches Christ’s disciples by means of baptizing them and teaching them to hold onto everything Jesus taught. 


In St. Mark 16:15-16, Jesus tells his preachers to preach and to baptize.  To preach is to teach.  The so called kerygma is not the divine teaching plus an added ingredient that somehow activates it to make it powerful to save.  What makes the preaching of the gospel powerful to save those who believe is the doctrinal truth it reveals to faith. (Romans 1:16-17)  Doctrine is the substance of preaching.  The purpose of preaching the gospel and administering Holy Baptism is that those who believe the gospel and are baptized will be saved.


In St. Luke 24:46-47, the pastoral office exists to preach repentance and the remission of sins in the name of the Christ who suffered and rose from the dead on the third day.  The preaching of the law and the gospel is the essence of the pastoral task and the reason for the establishment of the pastoral office.  Forgiveness of sins is preached so that by means of that preaching those who hear it will believe what they hear and receive the forgiveness of sins.  The purpose of the pastoral office is the justification of sinners through faith alone in the merits of Jesus Christ.


In St. John 20:21-23, Jesus says the same thing.  He places justification at the heart of the Christian proclamation without even mentioning the words preach and teach.  He zeros in on the essence of preaching and teaching which is the forgiving and retaining of sins.  The efficacy of the absolution the pastor pronounces, whether publicly in the general absolution at the beginning of the Divine Service or privately in the personal absolution pronounced upon the penitent, who has confessed his sins privately, comes from the authority that inheres in the gospel Jesus gives his preachers to preach.  The purpose of the pastoral office is that, through the preaching of the gospel, sinners will be justified through faith alone in him who has established peace between God and man by the blood he shed on the cross. 


The purpose of the preaching of the pastoral office is the justification of sinners and their salvation through faith alone in Christ, the Good Shepherd.  In St. John 21:15-17 where Jesus tells Peter to feed his sheep, he is not giving to Peter an authority superior to the authority he gives to all Christian pastors for the simple reason that there is no power in heaven or on earth that surpasses the power to forgive sinners their sins.  The equality of Christ’s ministers is not based on the sameness of the ministers themselves, nor does it disallow ranks among the pastors by human right for the sake of good order in the church.  Christ’s ministers are all equal in that they all have the same divine authority to forgive sins.  The focus of the feeding entrusted to the pastoral office is absolving sinners and there is no such thing as a limited absolution.


The words of Jesus in instituting the office set the foundation for what the apostles teach.  In Romans 1:16-17 St. Paul presents justification by faith alone as the power of the gospel to save.  In 1 Corinthians 1:21 he says that “it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”  In 1 Timothy 4:16 he writes:


Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.


The central topic of Christian doctrine is our justification by God.  We confess in the Augsburg Confession:


Our churches also teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works but are freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven on account of Christ, who by his death made satisfaction for our sins.  This faith God imputes for righteousness in his sight (?Rom. 3-4?).

We cannot understand what the pastoral office is and what it is for until we know this central truth of the Christian religion.  That you believe you are received into favor and your sins are forgiven on account of Christ, who by his death made satisfaction for your sins, is the faith by which you are justified by God and inherit everlasting life.  Here is what we confess in the Augsburg Confession immediately following this confession of justification.


In order that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted.  For through the Word and the sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given, and the Holy Spirit produces faith, where and when it pleases God, in those who hear the Gospel.


The purpose of the pastoral office is that we obtain from the Holy Spirit through the Word and the sacraments the faith through which we are justified by God.


The second question is: by what standards are pastors to be judged?  The personal qualifications are listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.  He is to be blameless.  The apostle lists what this entails.  He is to have but one wife, be temperate, sober-minded, well behaved, hospitable, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy, not quarrelsome, but gentle, not covetous, able to manage his own family, just, holy, self-controlled, having a good reputation, and so forth.  In 1 Timothy the only aptitude required of the pastor is that he be able to teach.  Likewise in Titus the only ability required of the minister is that, “he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict [the faithful word].”  The pastor is to be judged by the standard of his faithfulness to the divine word in his preaching and teaching.


St Paul identifies the work of Christ’s ministers in 1 Corinthians 4:1 as being “stewards of the mysteries of God.”  He then adds, “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”  In what does this faithfulness consist?  Listen to the charge Paul gives to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-5,


I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.


The faithfulness of the pastor is not determined by how well he is able to please the people he is called to serve.  It is determined by his devotion to the preaching of the word of God, whether or not it is well received.  He must ignore all personal concerns and, regardless of the theological or political climate within the congregation, patiently and persistently teach the gospel in all its purity.  The blamelessness of the minister is in his conduct.  It is not that he will be free from criticism.  In fact, his preaching will bring him affliction.  He is to put up with it.  If he doesn’t have the courage to take a stand on the word of God, even if he must pay a price in personal popularity, he isn’t fit to preach anything at all.  After pronouncing God’s curse on all those who preach a different gospel than the one that was revealed to him by Christ, St. Paul asks the Christians in Galatia: “Do I seek to please men?  If I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)  God judges his servants according to the truth he sends them to preach, as St. Paul writes, again, to Timothy:


Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)


The standard by which the pastor is to be judged is his faithfulness to the word of God.


This brings us to our third question: under what authority does the pastor do his work?  The biblical answer is clear.  He works under Christ’s authority.  Jesus says to his ministers, “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)  St. Paul tells the pastors in Ephesus that the Holy Spirit made them overseers of the church. (Acts 20:28)  St. Paul refers to himself and his fellow pastors as ambassadors of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20).  The pastor who relies on the Holy Scriptures to enable him to do the work of his office is referred to by Paul as a “man of God” in 2 Timothy 3:17, a designation that is still used today.  Of course, nothing more clearly displays the authority under which the pastor does his work than the nature of the work he is doing: preaching the word of God.  The One whose word he preaches is the One under whose authority he preaches.  As St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica:


For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)


If the pastor’s preaching was with the words of men or the wisdom and power of men then he would preach by their authority.


Here we must not set up a false antithesis between divine authority and ecclesiastical authority.  While the church does not have carte blanche to issue decrees that bind consciences or to manufacture at will new offices and claim that God established them, she is the bride of Christ and as such shares with the bridegroom all of his wealth.  The ministers that belong to Christ belong to his church.  They cannot serve Christ without serving Christ’s church.  Just as the pastor is accountable to Christ, so he must also be accountable to Christ’s church.  Those who are justified through faith alone by means of the gospel and sacraments the pastor administers have the right and the duty to judge the doctrine of their pastors.  Christ’s command to beware of false prophets (Matthew 7:15) gives the laity the right to judge the doctrine of their pastors.  It gives them the right to call men who are scripturally qualified to serve them.  No authority outside of the congregation may usurp that right.  The right to choose a pastor on the basis of God’s word is the right to dismiss a pastor on the same basis.


It is not either the pastor does his work under God’s authority or he does it under the church’s authority.  God has given the authority of the office to his church.  The church does not establish the standards by which she judges her ministers.  They have already been established by God in his written word.  Likewise, the church does not determine the purpose of the office.  God determined this and set it forth clearly in the Holy Scriptures. 


To summarize: what is the purpose of the pastoral office?  It is to teach the gospel purely and to administer the sacraments rightly so that through these means God will, when and where he pleases, justify through faith those who hear the gospel.  By what standards are pastors to be judged?  They are to be judged by their faithful teaching of the pure doctrine of God’s holy word.  Under what authority do they do their work?  They work under the authority of God and his holy word that he has entrusted to his holy Christian Church.


We turn now to the office of chief executive officer or CEO of a corporation.  In preparing for this presentation I asked my brother Erik, who has served for some years as a CEO and can on the basis of his formal education and personal experience speak authoritatively to the matter at hand, the three questions we have already considered with respect to the office of pastor.  First, what is the purpose of the CEO?  Second, by what standards is a CEO evaluated?  Third, under what authority does the CEO do his work?  I will share with you his answers to my questions, offer a brief comment on each, and then proceed to a comparison between these two forms of office and the feasibility of establishing the CEO model of service to the pastoral office.


What is the purpose of the CEO?  Here is what my brother wrote:


Strategic and visionary leadership.  Specifically, the CEO should establish the high level Vision or Mission for the company.  In other words, what is the company trying to be?  This would be the high level objective of the company.  In addition, the CEO should lead the development and execution of the business strategy that will be followed to realize that vision.  Tactical execution of the various elements of the strategy would be carried out by the management team, but the CEO should lead the development of the strategy.


We cannot understand the purpose of this office until we understand that the company decides for itself what it is to be and do.  It is not decided for the company by someone else.  It is the company’s responsibility.  The office of the CEO exists to establish, on the company’s behalf, the company’s high level vision or mission or objective of the company and to develop and lead the strategy by which this objective will be met.  Since the actual execution of this strategy will be carried out by others, the CEO must develop a strategy that works, not only in the abstract, but in practice.  Whether the company becomes what it is trying to become will depend in part on whether the CEO of the company is able to establish a vision that is achievable by executing the strategy that he leads in developing. 


Second, by what standards is a CEO evaluated?  Here is how my brother answered:


The CEO is almost always evaluated by the financial performance of the company (stock price, earnings growth, revenue growth, market share, etc.).  The specific financial metrics will vary based on the company, but ultimately the CEO is responsible for the financial performance of the company.  In addition, often times those financial metrics are in relation to specific competitors.  For example, a bank CEO might be evaluated on a set of financial metrics and how his bank compares to the average of a peer group of ten other similar banks.  Typically, the metrics are both short and long term (1, 3, 5 years), with the emphasis varying depending on the priorities of the specific company.


The CEO’s performance is measurable by a clearly tangible measurement.  The means by which to measure financial performance includes a number of variables.  It entails careful analysis and a level of competence.  It cannot tolerate the application of binding dogma that cannot be tested empirically.  Visible evidence cannot be ignored in favor of relying on what can neither be measured nor seen.  To appeal to what is intangible and unmeasurable in the evaluation of a CEO would be contrary to the nature of his office.  It exists to carry out measurable tasks.  To measure a CEO’s effectiveness by considering the financial performance of the company comports well with the nature and purpose of his office.


Third, under what authority does the CEO do his work?  Here is Erik’s response:


In most companies (virtually all publicly traded companies), the CEO reports to and receives direction from the Board of Directors.  The Board is typically elected by shareholders.

There is no external authority existing independently of the company that determines for the company the job description of its CEO or the standards by which the company will evaluate the CEO.  The relationship between the company and its CEO is determined by the company because the office of CEO is a creation of the company.  The CEO is essentially an at will employee of the company he serves.  The governing board’s responsibility is primarily to the owners of the company who elect them to represent their interests.  The shareholders do not invest in the company for the purpose of losing money.  The purpose of the office of CEO and the performance of the CEO must serve the interests of the shareholders to get a return on their investment.


To summarize: what is the purpose of the CEO?  His purpose is to establish for the company that high level vision that says what the company is trying to be and to formulate the strategy by which that goal is to be achieved.  By what standards are CEOs to be judged?  They are to be judged by the financial performance of the company.  Under what authority do they do their work?  They work under the authority of a board of directors that is elected by the shareholders of the company.


Is the CEO model of leadership compatible with the pastoral office instituted by Jesus?  Can the substance of the pastoral office fit into the form of the CEO?  The pastoral office exists so that by the pure preaching of the gospel and the right administration of the sacraments the Holy Spirit will, where and when God pleases, work faith in and justify through faith those who hear the gospel.  The pastor is a minister who administers what is set before him to administer.  As St. Paul wrote to Timothy:


And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)


The pastor is not responsible for establishing a high level vision of what the church is to be.  Nor is he responsible for formulating a strategy for the church to reach any sort of measurable goal.  The pastor is a steward of God’s mysteries, not his own.  He is a teacher.  The divine teaching is not his.  It is God’s.  The church does not decide for herself what she is.  She is what God says she is.  Luther gives us the scriptural definition of the church in the Smalcald Articles where he writes:


We do not concede to the papists that they are the church, for they are not.  Nor shall we pay any attention to what they command or forbid in the name of the church, for, thank God, a seven-year-old child knows what the church is, namely, holy believers and sheep who hear the voice of their Shepherd. (SA III XII)


There is a difference between establishing a vision and preaching the gospel.  The one calls for creative and imaginative leadership that is willing to adopt and execute changes in the company that will further the measureable goal of improving its performance.  But the gospel’s power lies hidden under the cross.  The faithful steward of God’s mysteries must set aside reliance on observable progress and embrace by faith God’s promise that the preaching of the cross that is a scandal and foolishness to the wise of this world is in fact the wisdom and power of God.  The preacher who relies on what he sees as evidence of the success of his preaching will abandon the preaching of the cross in favor of preaching principles for a success that can be empirically measured.  The congregation that adopts the CEO model will look to the pastor to share something of his own beyond the clear teaching of the gospel.


The gospel’s power lies hidden from sight.  It is the righteousness of Jesus that is from faith to faith.  This righteousness is foreign to us.  It is the righteousness of the obedience and suffering of Jesus Christ.  Thus, the vicarious satisfaction of Jesus must be proclaimed by the faithful pastor.  This righteousness consists in the doing of another, namely, Jesus.  It is ours only through faith in Jesus.  Faith cannot be seen except by God.


Lutherans understand that for the faith we cannot see or measure to be engendered and sustained, the preacher must consistently preach the law that condemns all sinners to hell and the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ as our only possible deliverance from damnation.  Luther said, “Hunger makes the best cook.”  Only when the law is preached according to the Holy Scriptures in all its exacting demands, and thereby rips away from the sinner his façade of righteousness, laying him naked and guilty before God, will the sinner hunger and thirst for the only righteousness that truly avails before God: the obedience and suffering of the God-man, Jesus Christ. 


If the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, the preacher will be judged by his faithfulness in preaching and teaching it.  His doctrinal fidelity will be regarded as more important than any visible results of his preaching.  If faith is always hidden under the preaching of the cross, the faithful preacher will faithfully preach the gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in the merits and mediation of Jesus.  He will not give up on the power of God’s word, but will persist in preaching the law and the gospel even when he sees no visible evidence that his preaching is bearing fruit. 


If, on the other hand, the preaching of the preacher is to be judged by visible, measurable results in the lives of those who hear him, the law will undergo a revision.  Instead of being the voice of God that demands what pure love requires us to do whether or not we can do it, it will be reduced to principles for successful living that are clear, practical, doable, and fitted within the framework of the leader’s vision for the church.


This is how Jesus is kicked out of his own church.  The church establishes her own mission, her own vision, her own means of achieving her self-appointed purpose, and her own office by which to facilitate it being achieved.  The justification of sinners is not the greatest good among those who have changed God’s law from the ministry of death into a ministry of can do religious optimism.  When justification is set aside, the ministry of the church is distorted.  Instead of serving as a minister of Christ, speaking the words Christ gives him to speak, the minister becomes a hireling.


A CEO is to increase the value of the company whereas a pastor teaches that the church’s sole value lies outside of her in the person, work, and word of another.  A CEO is to be judged by the results of his work whereas the pastor is to be judged by the work itself.


The corporation has to have the right to fire a CEO under whose leadership the company consistently loses money.  To argue otherwise is absurd on the face of it.  Should the Packers have been obliged to keep Aaron Rodgers on the bench while Brett Favre went into decline?  Let Favre play for the Vikings.  Put Rodgers in and win games.  You measure success by what you can see.  The CEO model for the ministry is based on the same principles.  Produce and earn the rewards.  Fail to produce and seek employment elsewhere.


The call of a pastor is not permanent for the pastor’s benefit.  We could hire and fire pastors at will and God would provide for his ministers.  Many faithful pastors who have been unscripturally removed from office can testify to this.  The permanence of the pastor’s call is based on the nature of the pastoral office.  The minister of the word is a minister of Christ and no one has the right to rob Christ of his servant.  To fire a faithful pastor is temple robbery.  It is an assault on the Lord Jesus.  It is as Jesus says to those he sends out to preach, “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16)


Jesus does not bind his authority to a pastor’s vision.  He binds it to his own word.  He binds himself to his ministers, not on account of their piety, dignity, wisdom, or insight, but on account of the words they preach to his sheep.  When your company is losing money in a business where other companies are making money you should consider firing your CEO.  He may not be doing what you are paying him to do.  To judge the performance of a pastor on the same basis is to deny the authority and power of Christ’s word.


We pray to God for our daily bread.  When a CEO of a corporation succeeds in improving the financial position of the company he serves so that those who have invested their money in that company can enjoy financial security, he is God’s servant to provide these people with their daily bread. 


We pray to God for the spiritual benefits we need and he provides them through his word.  This is why we protect the office Jesus established for the preaching of the gospel and administration of the sacraments from being adulterated by forcing it into a form that distorts its substance.  Pastors are not entrepreneurs.  They are ministers devoted to preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments.  This sacred duty requires fidelity, obedience, and stubborn courage.  It is for such ministers that we pray in the General Prayer:


Most heartily we beseech Thee so to rule and govern Thy Church Universal, with all its pastors and ministers, that we may be preserved in the pure doctrine of Thy saving Word, whereby faith toward Thee may be strengthened, charity increased in us toward all mankind, and Thy kingdom extended.  Send forth laborers into Thy harvest, and sustain those whom Thou hast sent, that the Word of Reconciliation may be proclaimed to all people and the Gospel preached in all the world.  Amen