We’ve really been enjoying the comments that folks have left here. In fact, a couple of your comments have sparked some of our more recent posts. For example, when we put up the “Our First Clue” essay last week, a reader used the term “nepotism” in a remark, and although it should have been obvious to us that “nepotism” was indeed what Pastor Smith was engaging in at Living Word Church (again, for the record, all pseudonyms), we’d never quite connected that pejorative term with Smith’s practice of ensconcing his sons in church staff positions.
So readers’ comments have served to stimulate our own thinking and analysis.
As I was reading what some of you had to say about “Hard Question #4,” I found myself posting a comment of my own that expands upon what bothers us about nepotism in the church. Rather than let it languish in the comments section, I figured I’d post it here for all to see, and maybe more of you would tell us what you think:
My sister and I were having an interesting discussion the other day, about how when you throw money (and a life of material ease) into the mix, it really does confuse things. It’s quite possible that one or both of Smith’s sons really ARE “anointed” for the ministry. But I just have to wonder how much of that “stirring in their hearts” would have been totally different if their parents had been struggling poor people. I mean, how honest are ANY of us about the true, deep motivations of our hearts?
It kind of reminds me of…like…if a young lady would be faced with marriage proposals from 2 different guys, both equally spiritual, kind, and talented…she has feelings for both of them…but one is very wealthy, while the other is poor. How easy would it be for her to convince herself that she is more “in love” with the rich guy? And how would she ever truly know her motivations?
I think a similar thing happens when sons of Charismatic pastors feel “called” to the ministry. How much of that “heart’s desire” comes from the fact that the ministry is familiar and comfortable? How much of it is because they want to please Mom and Dad? How much of it is because it’s the path of least resistance? How much of it is due to money?
It’s not that God can’t still “call” someone in the midst of all of that. I’m just saying that it sure makes it more confusing.
Especially because, as Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”
If a Charismatic pastor is faced with a child who wants to follow him into the ministry, it seems like the wise thing to do would be to encourage him to take the same path as someone whose father was NOT in the ministry. Go to seminary, make connections, hook up with an organization for ordination, and pursue a pastoral position (with a NORMAL salary) NOT associated with the family.
The fact that most Charismatic families don’t do that…well, to me, it says something highly significant about their true motivation. Or at least their wisdom.