It's an insult to God when church leaders try to emulate the talents of other preachers instead of being themselves, said Texas-based Village Church Lead Pastor Matt Chandler.
"That's actually insulting to the Lord, because you know who the Lord put in your church? You," said Chandler via webinar last week at the Exponential Conference, a yearly gathering with the purpose of inspiring pastors and church leaders. "So the kind of preacher God wants to accomplish His plans in the church that you are pastoring, is the gift that He gave you, fully sanctified and submitted to Him.
"You're not meant to be someone else, you're meant to be you."
The Texas pastor told church leaders to value their God-given gifts and encouraged them to accept who they are, and that "God's okay with that." He stressed, however, that pastors and other leaders should be the "most sanctified version" of themselves as possible. He urged pastors not to "enslave" themselves with comparisons to the perceived success of other leaders, when in reality people are average and depend on God for their prosperity.
"Embrace being average," he said. "Don't freak out about that, you just rest in the one who is not average, because your gift set and the place in which you have been placed are perfectly pleasing to the Lord."
While serving Christ, a leader must wait on Him for their increase. In time, said Chandler, God will cause the wind to blow into the "sails" of their church. "We are ... hopelessly and desperately in need for the Holy Spirit of God to blow on our ... sails that we have raised in the hopes that God just might move our ship."
The pastor said that there's no formula to prospering a church, and that God is not a Genie in a lamp that can be rubbed for success. Rather, Chandler said that there are [ways] that a church can position itself "where the wind has a tendency to blow."
Chandler referred to the church at Antioch — Antioch being the largest and most significant of 16 cities that were named after the Syrian emperor. Foremost among prophets and teachers there were Simeon, Lucien of Cyrene, Manaen, and Saul. As the group worshipped the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit spoke. "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." The two fasted and were prayed for and set off to their destinations (Acts 13:1-5).
The Acts 29 president said that the church, which pursued God through worship and fasting, positioned itself to receive His blessings. "One thing you must not ever grow out of is a marked pursuit of God in a right understanding of your desperation for Him. Your deep need of Him. The people of God have always been marked by this pursuit of God."
In the book of Psalms, Chandler provided another example of the pursuit of God when David expressed his desire to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, and to behold His beauty, and to inquire in His temple (Psalm 27:4).
Chandler's wife, Lauren, highlights this pursuit of Christ in her 2016 book, Steadfast Love, in which she writes about Christians calling out to God and "yielding an honest plea for Him to save us and deliver us from our circumstances, fears, and self-control."
The Village Church leader said that pastors should not only consistently pursue Christ, but also learn to let go and not be a hindrance when gifted people in their congregation feel the need to leave their church and go where the Holy Spirit is calling them.
"If you're the primary leader at your church, and the most gifted men and women underneath you begin to be pulled by the Holy Spirt to what's next for them ... And they come and share that with you ... And you immediately feel fear about that. You try to manipulate, connive, hang on, threaten and bully ... If that's you, you're building your kingdom and not His."