There is a tendency in our human nature to go to extremes, and some give extreme devotion to a spiritual leader. There can be a belief in the inerrancy of the one they choose to follow. If there is any unsound doctrine in their teaching and beliefs, it is often swept under the rug because of loyalty to a man rather than the Word.
“For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” (1 Cor. 3:4).
As the Corinthians did, we still find members of the Body of Christ championing one spiritual leader over another. This produces division and contention in the Church (1 Cor. 1:10-12). It’s important for us to remember that no matter how effective or eloquent a Bible teacher is, he is only human; he makes mistakes, and he has shortcomings and weaknesses. We need always to be Berean in what is taught from God’s Word (Acts 17:11), including what is taught by those we trust.
“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” (1 Cor. 3:5).
Preachers and teachers of the Word are “ministers” or servants to bring people to Christ and establish them in the faith. It’s unwise to raise servants to the rank of master. While we should “esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thes. 5:13), our devotion belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. If we follow a mortal man, we are headed for disappointment. But we will never be disappointed when we keep our eyes on the Lord.
On the other side of the coin, sin, selfishness, and pride can lead some pastors and teachers to desire a following, accept adoration, and set themselves up as the authority on the Scriptures. We should watch for this kind of attitude among spiritual leaders. The true shepherd is someone who points people, not to himself, but to the Lord, “that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). Godly leaders desire God’s people to follow Christ, His Word, and sound doctrine.
“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
Paul shows why we should never glory in a man in the ministry. He teaches that the servant who plants the seeds of the gospel is nothing. Likewise, the servant who waters the seeds of the gospel is nothing. Man does not have the power to bring forth spiritual life or fruit. “But God,” the God Who gives the increase, the life, and the fruit in the ministry, He is everything. Thus, our focus should not be on following this leader or that man. In the Church, we should be one in our desire to follow the Lord and to give the God of the increase the honor and glory He rightly deserves.
“Therefore let no man glory in men” (1 Cor. 3:21a).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.