Seductive Popularity

The experience of a young preacher of a popular denomination came under my observation some time ago, and may serve as an object lesson regard­ing the hidden dangers in a minister's popularity.

By E. K Slade

The experience of a young preacher of a popular denomination came under my observation some time ago, and may serve as an object lesson regard­ing the hidden dangers in a minister's popularity. This young man had just finished his college work and had been assigned to a pastorate in a thriving village. He was youthful, alert, pos­sessed of good health and a pleasing personality, and began his ministerial career with every promise of success from the standpoint of natural ability and favorable conditions.

Although the church to which he was assigned was small and in a much run-down condition, the coming of this brilliant and ambitious young preacher brought a real awakening throughout the community. The chief ambition of this young man seemed to be to please the people, and his winning personality and freedom of speech served well to that end. In all his preaching, in handling church problems, and in entering into the social functions of the community, it was his constant study to make sure of pleasing everybody and to be thought well of. He studiously avoided saying anything that would cross the path of his hearers, and consequently there was little attempt to rebuke sin, for fear of rebuking sinners. He entered enthusiastically into athletics and sports, and adopted the general practices of the people. In fact, it was very apparent that he was bent upon winning esteem as a broad­minded, social type of preacher.

As would naturally be expected, this young preacher became very popular. Everybody in the village rejoiced that such a capable and energetic social leader had arrived in their town, and flocked to the church. Extensive repairs and enlargement of the church were made possible by the generosity of the people, and very soon the little church became the popular social cen­ter for the village. But notwithstand­ing all this apparent growth and im­provement, it was very apparent that the spiritual standard had become greatly lowered. Instead of the world's being brought to conform to the spirit­ual standard of the church, the church had opened its doors to admit a strong tide of worldliness. In other words, the church had attained to a place of popularity at the expense of spiritual­ity, and had been led into this sad situ­ation by her spiritual guide. Here was a case of " like people, like priest," as the Lord has portrayed, and the re­sult is utter failure, for the Lord de­clares: " I will . . . reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me." Hosea 4:9, 6.

As I observed the development and outgrowth of this young minister's career, it seemed to me that the funda­mental difficulty in his case was his fixed purpose and constant endeavor to please the people; and in contrast my mind turned to the counsel of Paul to young Timothy, expressed in the words, " Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

The cultivation of a pleasing man­ner by a minister of the gospel is not to be condemned; but when a minister begins to study how he may gain the approval of men, without regard as to himself being approved unto God, he is headed toward defeat. The mouthpiece for God, the ambassador of heaven's King, cannot mold his message and govern his conduct to satisfy popular demand. His social contact must be governed by the high standard of the holy calling of the ministry, as set forth in the inspired word. To lower this standard, in the desire to win favor and popular ap­plause, and be considered " a good fellow " in the social realm of the world, results in ruin to the career of any preacher.

Never have the needs of the world more greatly demanded a ministry free from self-seeking, a ministry hid­den behind the cross of Calvary. It is the crucified Christ who will draw all men unto Himself, when He is lifted up before the people. To pre­sent Christ in all His beauty is to be the study of the minister. To substi­tute the study of plans and methods which cater to public opinion and please the unregenerate mind, is to lower the standard and defeat the purpose of the gospel ministry.

South Lancaster, Mass.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

By E. K Slade

July 1929

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Trenchant Truths

Faith is rooted in the substantial knowledge of facts, not in the effer­vescence of emotion.

Our Greatest Peril

A mere assent to the truth does not constitute righteousness.

Ministerial Internship Provision For North America

A new provision to bridge the gap between the training school and the field.

Ministerial Training Advances

Glimpses of ministerial training.

The Gospel Message in the Book of Revelation

Exploring the purpose of the work of Christ on our behalf.

Opening Doors for the Bible Worker

Medical missionary work as an entering wedge for the presentation of the message.

" A Little Folly "

The reputation for wis­dom and honor built up by years of diligent study, earnest prayer, and exemplary conduct, may suddenly become obnoxious because " a little folly " is allowed to drop into the spiritual ointment of the divine apothe­cary.

New Joy in Life and Service

A personal testimony.

Roman Authorities

Valuable quotations from reliable sources

The Query Corner

To what extent have our distinctive doctrinal positions been recognized by others before us? How nearly are our positions )on the prophecies, especially in Daniel and the Revelation, uniquely Adventist in origin and proclamation? Wherein do we differ from those who have recognized these truths?

Study for Ourselves

Gem statements from the Spirit of Prophecy.

Editorial Postscripts

Closing thoughts from the Ministry back page.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - NAD Stewardship (160x600)