Saturday, December 03, 2005

Esteem And Association

A lot of people tell me they're reading my blog now. And most of them tell me they wish I'd write more. I've tried to use the excuse that I can't think of much to write about, but in reality, that's far from true.

You see, the problem is that I can think of lots to write about, but that much of it would be just a little bit too "human" for those who come to this page because it's written by "Pastor Ron."

Oh, I understand the situation they're in. For years, pastors were my heroes. Chuck Smith, Chuck Missler, Jon Courson, Raul Ries, Skip Heitzig... the list could certainly go on much longer. I really was in awe of them. And the last thing I wanted to discover was their fallibility. That they could make mistakes, have a bad day, be prideful, foolish, sinful, or stupid was beyond my comprehension.

I didn't want human pastors. I wanted heroes.

Incredibly, there are now quite a few people in the world who view me in that same light. But, in spite of having been there myself, I simply cannot wrap my brain around it. From this other side, it is a total mystery to me.

Someone asked me the other night how it felt to have non-Christian family members who don't acknowlege my teachings and vast Scriptural knowledge. She asked if I was surprised that they didn't view me as someone special, as an important individual.

I told her that I really did understand her perspective in asking the question, but that in my mind, I'm honestly surprised that anybody listens to me at all, much less respects me!

I'm pretty sure she didn't believe me, though I was being completely sincere.

So I've been wondering lately, "How human is a pastor allowed to be?" It seems to depend on the person viewing them. Some who've seen too much of me say they're happy to know I'm a real guy. Others freak out and find another church, trashing me as unholy to as many people as they can along the way.

This sort of pedestal-placing has gone on for a very long time. Back in the first-century church God was using the apostles in pretty powerful ways.

"At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people... But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem." - Acts 5:12-13

They were held in high esteem, and people were afraid to hang out with them.

Sounds a bit too familiar to me.

All of that is to say I'm not sure how much hair I'm going to be letting down around here. This post itself may have already pushed the envelope too far and alienated some. But, if you're still reading, then I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts...


At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pastor Ron,

Thanks again for another great entry. This made me think about how we left the Catholic church 2 1/2 years ago for numerous reasons. One of them being the fact that they seem to place priests up on a pedestal to "look down" upon the rest of us. They always seemed phony to me and I had a hard time listening to somebody who thought they were high and mighty just because of their title. I wanted people who didn't claim to be so perfect and I could identify with. Not somebody unapproachable and with a lofty opinion of themselves.
Enter Calvary Chapel Cheyenne! What a difference. When I heard you tell your story during a service of how you were a devout atheist and into drugs when you were in Viking, and turned your life around, I was impressed. I saw a person who has faults just like us. You didn't put yourself up on a pedestal and look down on us.
I really like reading your blog because it is nice to know that you are a real person with feelings and everything else, just like the rest of us. Not like anybody should be surprised. You are human just like the rest of us. Hello people!!!!
Here in Sterling at the Calvary Chapel, Darren, the pastor, made a comment that goes right along with this whole issue you speak of. He is also aware that many people place pastors up on a pedestal and expect them to be perfect. He said something to the effect that people would be surprised to know that he is not as in control all the time as it may seem, just like the rest of us. He said there are times when he has to check his heart and ask where he is at the time.
Here in Sterling, they are a great bunch of people and being a small group yet, everybody is really close. When we first attended we noticed that everybody called him simply, Darren. Not "Pastor Darren". Then I realized why! He is one of us and doesn't feel the need to have people call him by a title. (He came from a Catholic church also.) He said he is here to serve the people. Tuesday nights we gather in their living room for the ladies Bible Study, The Way of Agape by Chuck (who you mentioned) and Nancy Missler. The textbook gets into detail about how they too are human like the rest of us. Jesus is the only one who is sinless and perfect.
So, if people can't handle the truth and accept that you are human too, that is too bad. Maybe they should join the Catholic church instead. And, there will always be somebody who is offended. Darren made a comment about how too many churches are "seeker sensitive". I figure if people can't handle the truth that is because they have things they don't want to admit about themselves. I am sure this entry of mine may even offend some people, but oh well. Just as you said yours might or how you said people find out you are a "real guy" and freak out and find another churh, trashing you along the way. But the people who are not afraid of the truth will still be around.
Keep up the great blog entries. It is nice to see the person behind the name.

Lori Kaufman

At 4:09 AM, Blogger Michael Byrd said...

Pastor Ron,

Hmmm… you certainly stir-up our minds and cause us to really think an issue through! I appreciate this about you. Yet, in addition to your question “How human is a pastor allowed to me” there are questions that we sheep should ask as well… such as How much respect should we lavish on a Pastor? How much should we look to a Pastor while all the while looking at Christ? And finally, “Am I seeking to hang with the Pastor so that I can be apart of the ‘in-crowd’?

From my perspective as ‘the new guy in the church’ (since May 05), I know that I’ve had very little actual conversation with you. That’s not because I don’t like you or that I don’t respect you – for I don’t go around and call everyone my pastor—therefore, my respect for you is great! It’s just – that I’ve been around the religious-block a time or two and know that time constraints are placed on you and also that other’s probably need your attention more than I do. I’ve started reading your blogs because I have a desire to know you more as a man, hopefully as a close-friend (over time) and also as a pastor. I view you in this manner.

To raise you to a pedestal status shows a lack of understanding on my part and in the extreme can become ‘hero-worship’ and then idolatry. To view you as a man with faults, failures, problems, and sin in your life does not distract from my respect for you but acts as a conduit to my heart – that is, that since you’ve been honest with me and showed me your heart then I can be honest with you and show you what’s in my heart. We can therefore comfort one another and pray for one another’s weaknesses (2 Cor. 1:4).

As you’ve taught many times… the Bible is our main source when questions are posed to us. In 1 Thess 5:12-13 which reads, “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.
(NASU). I grew up with the KJV which reads, “to know them which labour among you…” This has and is my desire to ‘know you’ so that I might increasingly trust you and also that you might also know me.
With all of this said… you are in a unique position… a tight-rope walk… for one, I perceive that you have a desire to be yourself and to identify with others heart to heart… and yet, to do so in a manner that does not hinder the Gospel… it seems that Paul in Romans 7 walked this rope very well – through the working of the Spirit of God within him…

At 1:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, being your sister and growing up with you, I know just how human you are! (Don't worry, I won't embarrass you here.) You certainly don't have to worry about me putting you on a pedestal, but I really do acknowledge and appreciate your teachings and vast Scriptural knowledge. It sure is nice that I can call my brother to get godly advice and a Biblical perspective. But as far as hanging out with're a bad influence on my kid! It took me quite a while to get her to stop fake sneezing on people while flicking water on the backs of their necks!

At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pastor Ron,
I am so glad I checked out the Calvary Chapel web page today and saw your blog section. I read this piece today and I am glad you are writing things like this for folks to read and reflect on. It's true that some people tend to put pastors and church leaders up on a pedestal, which causes many of people to think that what they have to offer the Kingdom is miniscule by comparison. That's definitely something that you, Ron, have endeavored to dispel in peoples' minds since your involvement in the church there. I think the reason most people listen to and enjoy being around you is your youthful attitude, your ability to be goofy and real, while still caring for and "feeding the sheep". I remember fondly the Friday night Bible studies in Laramie that you led years ago, during Patrice's and my infancy as Christians. We learned a lot from those studies and the fellowship we had with all the folks who attended. I liked the fact that we could all just be ourselves and I think a lot of that had to do with your approach to ministry. So, to answer your question of why anyone would listen to you, it's simple: because you are not just a wise teacher of the gospel, but a real person who can relate to the struggles and issues that most people face, just like our Lord, Jesus Christ, has modeled the way to reach out to, care for, and share the truth with others.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Candie said...

I guess I'm one of those who wishes you would post a little more often. Since we've grown so as a church body, and your time is so limited, those who of us who have been around for a little while, kinda miss your sometimes *all too human* presence. :grin:
I hope you don't feel "constrained" by knowing many of us are reading, since those who may be offended, will likely find a reason to be so, no matter what you do! Kinda like those e mails that you KNOW you are going to get, but it doesn't stop you from teaching the truth. That's the honesty and "humanness" (is that even a word?) that we've grown to love and appreciate, and part and parcel of why you are such a great teacher.

At 2:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pastor Ron,
I appreciate that you worry about other's thoughts and views. That is what makes you such a wonderful pastor. I love hearing your sermons and I have learned so much from you. Just as you preach the truth on Sundays and Thursdays, the same applies to your everyday life, as well. There is always someone who is going to be offended.

I, for one, appreciate the fact that my pastor is a human being. It makes it easier to talk to you and relate to you. I have met pastors who act like they were born knowing everything and that they do no wrong, and never did. They are cold and unpersonable.

Your weblog is wonderful and I hope you feel comfortable to share more about yourself. I will keep reading and I know may others who will, as well.

God Bless.

At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My name is Ken Horn, I wish you would email me asap. I use to go to Calvary Chapel in Wy.i totally followed your teachingings and miss the insight you brought!I wish you would get back into teaching because it is your calling! email me at

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Pastor Ron,

I love your E-Bible Study.. I am from Malaysia.. and have been forwarding your web-sites to friends. You are a great Pastor teaching from deep within your heart.. Thanks a million.


At 8:19 AM, Blogger Musicaliti said...

I found ur site by accident, but ur bible study insights are fab - I gotta ask, do u ever do UK?? Dude, u r so spot on, would love to hear u live!! Cannot believe America is exporting the likes of Rob Bell when there are people like u about!!

On ur pastor-human duality, I have so many tangential thoughts on this, incl, as a 'mature' psych student, (current) critical psychology transcends either-or argument e.g. Nature-nurture, accepts both; as a Christian, u can relate more than most to Jesus' God-human dual nature!

However as a PK (pastor's kid) growing up with a 'perfection complex' that was imposed on me, I saw my dad had very few people he could be human with because of the almost glorified state in which people viewed him. Comes with the territory unfortunately. I hadn't realised just high my dad's 'pedestal' was til I was trying to arrange a lift for youth group and asked them to pick me up a little later while dad watched his favourite soap!!

Go for it, dude!!


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