If you’re a pastor, you may struggle with the temptation to rise from obscurity and to become a great pastor. Ecclesiastes 4 speaks of such a man. He comes from nowhere, but because of wisdom he rose to power as a king. It sounds good: “There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led.”
I can see the book and conference right now. What’s not to like? Young man, wise, obviously skilled, making a big impact.
Ecclesiastes sounds a caution: “Those who come later will not rejoice in him,” he says. They’ll have moved on to someone new and better. Yesterday’s leaders are so yesterday. “Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.”
No matter how many people we pastor, our leadership and influence is temporary. We will be forgotten. Even those who rise from obscurity to become leading leaders, so to speak, will be passed over more quickly than we think.
As I wrestled with this text this week I thought of a conference blurb I read. Most blurbs are easily forgotten, but this one stuck. It announced the conference lineup, including this description of one of the speakers (Daniel Montgomery):
Daniel, the senior pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, says his vision statement is, ”Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.”
I love that. That may be the best vision statement for a pastor I’ve read. Don’t aspire to rise from obscurity; aspire to attain obscurity, but preach the gospel in the meantime. That’s the type of pastor we need.