Man of God
Over the years there has been a progression of a thought that people should do what the pastor says because he is the “Man of God.” I have heard it used as though a man has carte blanche power because he has that title. Often the title is self imposed and used as leverage with the people. Allow me to offer a spin on this teaching from my observation of Dr. Jack Hyles.
Dr. Hyles sought to be a man of God, but he did not believe that people should listen to him because he held that “title.” In fact to him it was not really a title at all. He believed it ought to be a description. Every Christian man should be the man of God in whatever role God has placed him. The husband ought to be the man of God in his marriage. A father ought to be the man of God in his home. The fact is, every man who claims Christ as Lord ought to seek to be the man of God in the positions he holds.
But, what of the special designation oft given to preachers, in particularly pastors, as being the “Man of God?” I do not buy it. A man in the pulpit ought to be a man of God, but the pulpit does not make him so. Certainly he holds a position of God, but that position does not make him a man of God. Many men who hold the position of God are not men of God.
Saul held the God ordained position of king but he was not a man after God’s own heart. David, who replaced him in the position was a man after God’s heart. Therefore we can clearly see that the position is not a justification for claiming the title of “Man of God.” The position gives a man certain positional authority, but being a man of God requires one to seek after the heart of God, which by the way, leads more to servanthood than dictatorship.
Let me share some specific thoughts regarding this designation.
1. A man of God is one who seeks after God not power or position. A man of God is one who seeks after God not after the authority of a title or position. Dr. Hyles was a man of God because he walked with God not because he held a title or position. To demand what is not earned is ludicrous, self-serving, and destructive in its very nature. A man is no less a man of God without the title than he was with the title of pastor or evangelist. Seeking the face of God and His friendship for service is what real men of God do with their lives. If you find yourself reminding people that you are their pastor it should alarm you.
2. Every man ought to seek to be a man of God. Every husband, every father, every pastor and every man who holds an authoritative position ought to seek to be a man of God. God sought for a man to make up the hedge is not specifically speaking of preachers. Every man should seek what it is that qualifies him to be a man of God. Our families need men of God. Our schools need men of God. Our ministries need men of God. Our marriages need men of God. To seek to be that man is a good thing.
3. Therefore, a preacher, or pastor ought to be a man of God with or without the position. Brother Hyles was a man of God to me long before he had an authoritative position over me and long after as well. He earned that with his life. My sons are pastors and my daughters are married to fine Christian men. They are serving God and for that their mother and I are very grateful. Humanly speaking this was because there was a man of God in our life by the name of Jack Frasure Hyles. It was not because he held a title, but because he earned that place in our lives.
4. A church should seek a pastor to fill the position who seeks to be a man of God in the position of God. You do not hire a man to be the man of God. You hire a man to be the pastor who seeks to be a man of God. There is a difference between a position and a purpose. A man can lose a position without losing a purpose. Men who seek offices make a mistake for they should be seeking to be a man of God who can properly fill the office.
5. Pastors should not use the title “man of God” to authorize their activities but to monitor them. Being a man of God means you are the one in subjection to the leading of the Lord. A man of God does not yield a rod of power, but a role of servanthood. The greater the servant, the greater the example one has. The word “minister” means exactly that. The man of God is to minister to and care for others less fortunate. To monitor or provide leadership for serving is done through example more than exhortation.
6. A church should follow the man with the position, but we should seek personal guidance from one who has proven with his life to be a man of God. We follow a man who is in authority. We trust a man who walks with God and seeks after Him. People trusted Brother Hyles because his life showed him to be a man of God, not because he dictated that they do so. He never abused his power to hurt anyone. That was evident to all. Being right was not as important to him as using his position to restore the fallen. There is a reason the Bible says “mercy” before it says “truth” and “grace” before “truth.” Where many are willing to use the “letter of the law” first; Brother Hyles allowed the “Spirit” to lead him first.
7. A pastor who humbly respects his position will more likely be a man of God, than one who wields it like a weapon. I am afraid some young men enter the ministry just to get a parking spot close to the building. The idea of service must be preeminent in the heart and life of a preacher. First, there must be service to our Lord through service to His people. Second, there must be denial of self in order to accomplish this great ministry of service. Third, one must become a custodian of doctrine so the service will continue throughout generations to come.
8. All men in the position of God make mistakes, so a humble spirit is necessary to prevent them from being like Saul and help them be like David. Tragically, positions of God turn some men into men of pride rather than men of God. A humble man in a position of God will most likely be a man of God. Please do not misunderstand. Meekness and weakness are two separate attributes in a man of God’s life.To speak up and stand up at the appropriate time has a mixture of meekness and weakness found in it. Moses was meekness embodied in strength. He stood when he was supposed to stand and in so doing humbled himself. Yet, we find the same man striking when he should have been speaking to the rock. When wrong admit it!
9. It is good when the people of God call their pastor a man of God because he has proven to be so. There is nothing wrong with me calling Dr. Hyles a man of God because he proved to be so in his life. However, he did not designate himself as such to me. In the twenty-two years of traveling with him, I never heard him refer to himself as a “man of God.” Yet, in our eyes he had earned the title. Others, who knew him well would not hesitate to call him a “man of God.”
10. It is dangerous for the man in the position of God to try and force the people to accept him as the man of God. A man who leads must be in the lead. Too many are leading from behind, posing as a leader by declaring it to be so. If like begets like in Scripture, and it does, then the position has to be baptized in a purpose. Others need to see the purpose and not the position as they labor with the leader. No one minds doing as you do, but they will rebel at doing as you say. Example is far greater motivator than exhortation. Both are necessary. However, exhortation without example is a killer of the purpose.
11. It is dangerous for men to assume that because the pastor they respected and admired was a man of God that they automatically were a man of God as well. I was not a man of God because my mentor was, but I sought to be a man by seeking after the God of my mentor. Elisha sought the God of Elijah and became a man of God. Sitting under great men does not make anyone a great man. Seeking the God of a man of God is the key to becoming your own man of God. Man does not make men of God. Only God can make a man seeking Him His man.
12. We need to teach all men to strive to be a man of God in the ordained position where God has placed them. No matter where God has placed you, He desires for you to be the man of God to those who look to you. It is not a result of or inherited in a title, but from seeking of God. Our homes need men of God as do the pulpits of our churches in America.
13. A man in a position of authority will have a far greater influence for God if he also is or becomes a man of God. A husband and a father who is a man of God will be a far greater influence on his wife and family than one who merely has the position of husband and father. The same is true of a pastor. More authority does not lead to greater influence. More power from God does. If you tell people you have God’s power then you do not have God’s power.
14. We should not allow the influence of a man of God to be lessened because those in the same position were nothing more than men of position. Saul did not make David any less of a man of God even though Saul was a man in a position of God who himself was not a man of God. There are many examples of men God in positions of God who were preceded or succeeded by men who themselves were not truly men of God.
15. There is even a difference between being God’s man and being the man of God. I have heard men say when introducing a man to preach, “He is God’s man for the hour.” There is truth to that statement. When a man stands before a crowd to bring the truth of God, he is God’s man for that moment. However, when a man sits before his child and teaches them the word of God he’s also the man of God for that moment. We are God’s men as we stand to do Gods work. There’s a difference between being God’s man for the moment and being a man of God. When Saul stood before the kingdom he was God’s man because he held the position. However, Saul did not seek after God so he could not be called a man of God.
For these many years as I have filled the position of God I have sought to be a man of God. However, I have sought to be a man of God for more than just the position of pastor. I sought to be a man of God for the position of father, husband as well as for pastor. Am I a man of God? I cannot answer that question other than to say that for these many years as I have filled those positions with my greatest desire has been to seek after the heart of my God.