Timothy Gombis, Pauline Scholar extrodinare, writes the following in a Christianity today article:
If we encountered Paul today, he would not be the strong and decisive leader we often imagine. In fact, many of our contemporary churches would hardly consider him a viable pastoral candidate.
What would cause Gombis to make such an absurd comment? Well, because it was true. Gombis goes on to assert:
Evangelicals place a high priority on leadership, perhaps because historically our movement has been carried along by strong leaders. The great figures in our heritage have been powerful speakers and compelling visionaries, many of whom have built colleges, seminaries, and, in some cases, entire denominations. These are also the traits we want to see in our pastors.
Isn’t this the truth?! Because one or two “strong leaders” have shown up, we have now made that an expectation for all pastors and church leaders, that they be “strong and charismatic, dynamic. Gombis continues:
Thus we intuitively assume that Paul was someone just like this. We think he must have been a compelling figure, a charismatic and decisive leader, and a powerful speaker. From the moment of conversion, he immediately put his great abilities to work for Christ, taking over the leadership of the church and becoming its powerful spokesperson. When we look at the evidence from the New Testament, however, we find a very different picture…
Indeed we do, but are we willing to recognize that? One of Gombis’ final assertions is “If we encountered Paul today, we might be disappointed to find someone quite unlike the strong and decisive leader we often imagine.”
I really appreciate this because I know there are many out there with the spiritual gift of pastor and they do anything but fit contemporary modles of what is con trued as “pastor.” and I think this is to the shame of the American church at large and especially to the charismatic movements, who all too often conflate the concepts of charismatic, as in spiritually gifted, with notions of charisma as dynamo and lots of charm and energy, a type A personality. It is not that a pastor can’t have these characteristics but it should not be expected that all folks with the spiritual gift of pastor to have such characteristics.