Covenant Seminary was giving away a book called The Imperfect Pastor by Zack Eswine. I’ve not read the book. (Too many books, so little time!) Instead, I plan to give it to a friend who is a seminary student preparing for pastoral ministry.
But in flipping through the book, something caught my eye. In a chapter called “A New Ambition,” Eswine has a one-page section labeled as follows: “Smaller is always better than larger unless, and only if, God extrudes us.”
He goes on to write:
We lose rest of soul when we believe that bigger is better. The Serpent tempts all of us to believe that some places matter more than others, that some people matter more than others, and that our strategies and gifts rather than God’s wise calling are our answer.
But in Luke 14:7-11, Jesus teaches those who follow him to seek the lowest, not the highest, seats at the table. Francis Schaeffer points out how many of us pastors believe the opposite of what Jesus teaches. In our way of thinking, “we are tempted to say, ‘I will take the larger place because it will give me more influence for Jesus Christ.'” But Jesus teaches us that we should determine to take the lower place unless the Lord himself “extrudes us” into the larger one.
Source: The Imperfect Pastor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 146.
This is a profound lesson for all of us, not just pastors.
By the way, here is the text of Luke 14:7-11, the parable of the wedding feast:
Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”