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There are Lessons for Pastors in the Rise of Trump

  • Rachel Dawson What topic related to Christianity, faith, and the Bible is trending online and in social media today?
  • Published May 19, 2016

Before you start spouting opinions or statistics, you should know that this is not an article about who you should vote for. This isn’t about which candidate is best for America or about any of the latest breaking news headlines.

It is, however, about Donald Trump… just not in the way you might expect.

Erik Raymond wrote a piece for The Gospel Coalition called “What Can Pastors Learn from Donald Trump?” and he poses a very interesting question.

Are there lessons our church leaders can learn from Trump? Are there similarities between some pastors and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee?

Raymond argues yes.

“I am not suggesting that we necessarily learn from Donald Trump in terms of homiletics or public speaking, however, I am suggesting that we as pastors can learn something from the phenomenon that is Donald Trump,” Raymond says. “We can learn about the people that we reaching and endeavoring to reach with the gospel; and we can be reminded of the pitfalls of aiming to cater to them.”

Based on the results of this presidential race so far, you surely know someone who supports Trump, or you support him yourself. Ask or even simply observe any of his supporters and you’ll start to see what they like about the controversial candidate: “his straight talk, passion, showmanship, self-confidence, and triumphalism,” Raymond lists. “Obviously some of these are not a problem while others certainly are.”

Raymond then prompts readers to consider where they might have seen these traits before-- “Do we ever see pastors claiming to ‘tell it like it is’ with passion? Do we see guys that appear to have unflinching if not almost appalling levels of self-confidence? Have you heard of any pastors talking bragging about the size of their church, accomplishments, or influence? The answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ We see this all over the place. Trump reflects many of the church-growth, mega-church practices of the influential pastors.”

This type of behavior isn’t always good or very God-glorifying.

So, pastors, what can you learn from this?

Here are a few things to consider:

  • The Lord shows favor to the humble. A quick search of Bible verses about pride shows a consistently common theme: pride leads to disgrace, and the humble are lifted up. Proverbs 16:18 sums it up simply: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
  • What may "work" may not be what is right. “There is a difference between drawing crowds and seeing the church built,” Raymond explains. “After all, we should note that all crowds are not churches, some are circuses!” Just because you can brag about the size of your church or the successes of your ministries does not mean that it’s helpful for continuing the work of the Kingdom.
  • Your primary calling is to be faithful. “It is faithfulness that is the barometer of our ministries, not accolades, attendance, or any other apparent ‘success,’” Raymond says. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 reminds us that our goal should be to live “as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.”
  • “Trusting in God’s means brings about God’s ends.” Living out your calling in faithful obedience looks like doing the work of ministry day in and day out as you help shepherd your people into faith and into greater maturity as believers. God desires to be glorified through your faithfulness.
  • Continue your sound teaching, regardless of trends in society. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 in The Message tells us “You're going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food - catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They'll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you - keep your eye on what you're doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant.”

Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, and regardless of who you support and will vote for, we can all learn valuable lessons from Donald Trump’s race so far. Pastors, may his actions prompt you to take a look at your own. Seek a godly, Biblical perspective of leadership instead of what is culturally popular or currently modeled.

While many Americans are acting based on what they want and how they want it, let this be a challenge for us as Christians to act based on what God wants and how He wants it instead.

Publication date: May 19, 2016

Rachel Dawson is the editor of