Hebrews 13:7, 17 (ESV) Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
God has blessed my life with two Pastor-Teachers who have had a great influence in my spiritual and ministerial formation.
The first Pastor was The Reverend Rafael Fraguela, who not only baptized me as one of his disciples, but also tutored me very closely during my Bible-School days in preparation for the pastoral ministry. Pastor Fraguela is a fragile man of small stature, but a tremendous Biblical scholar, philosopher and teacher. When he was teaching me to preach, he encouraged me to imitate him in everything- even if people criticized me for it- because by doing so, I would learn the basics of my future vocation. He encouraged me to put away any desires to develop my own “style,” because eventually my natural personality would begin to flower through my ministry as I matured as a Presbyter (Elder). I trusted him fully, without question, as if he was Lord Jesus Christ himself… And he was right.
The second Pastor who influenced me was The Reverend Diego Flores. I will never forget the first time I met him while doing a hospital visit. Pastor Diego emanates both the transcendental love and peace of Christ and the seriousness of the Pastoral Ministry. A rare specimen…who although has no children of his own, is a perfect image of Fatherhood in Christ. His relationship with God effortlessly emanates through his presence like an attractive scent that invites everyone to share in the glories of Christ.
Although I have been a Pastor for almost 20 years, I do not (and never will) feel like an “equal” to them, or any of the Pastors that worked in forming me into what I am. How can I presume “equality” when they are the spiritual fathers who served as icons of Christ for me to imitate? It was they who laid the foundations and pillars of who I am today. They were the “Angels” who gently taught me the Word of God. They were the ones who recognized the call of God upon me and who sincerely encouraged me to follow their footsteps. Wherever I am, there they are with me, in me, and through me- and regardless of where I go, it is in their footsteps that I shall walk, always.
Whoever hears me, hears them. Whoever sees me, sees them. Whoever I disciple, is discipled by them. When my disciples imitate me, it is my Pastor-Teachers whom they are imitating.
I revere them because they, although mere men, were the Messengers of God that illumined me with the message of the Gospel and patiently taught me by word and example, how to be a Christian. Without their teachings in word and example, I would not know how to be a Christian.
Today’s plague of disunity in the Christian Church is due especially to the Protestant innovation of arrogant minimizing and de-emphasizing of the venerable role of the Pastor-Teacher (Ephesians 4:11-13) in the community of believers.
The Pastor-Teacher (especially in Evangelical circles) has been demoted to the position of “brother” so that the pretentious opinions of carnal neophytes can find a morsel of justification before the ignorant slaves of sense gratification. The continual trampling and desecration of the Pastoral office in today’s “Evangelical” Church, only serves as a means of deconstructing the disciplic model that Lord Jesus intended for His people.
St. Ignatius of Antioch (disciple of St. John/2nd Century) wrote in his letter to the Magnesians 3.1
Now it becomes you also not to treat your bishop (head Pastor) too familiarly on account of his youth, but to yield him ALL REVERENCE, having RESPECT to the power of God the Father, as I have known even holy presbyters do, not judging rashly, from the manifest youthful appearance [of their bishop], but as being themselves prudent in God, submitting to him, or rather not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the bishop of us all. It is therefore fitting that you should, after no hypocritical fashion, obey [your bishop], in honour of Him who has willed us [so to do], since he that does not so deceives not [by such conduct] the bishop that is visible, but seeks to mock Him that is invisible. And all such conduct has reference not to man, but to God, who knows all secrets.
St. Ignatius (a bishop himself) wrote this on his way to his martyrdom in Rome. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that in the last days, false teachers would denigrate the Pastoral office, and with that, desecrate the teachings of Lord Jesus Christ.
Many Evangelicals have a problem with the use of the adjective “Reverend” before a Pastor’s name with the pretension that by doing so, they are stealing the reverence that is due to Christ. Obviously… they do not understand the Apostolic mind.
The Greek word that St. Ignatius of Antioch uses for “reverence” is the word “ἐντρέπω” (entrepo- Strong’s #1788), which in the Scriptures has a double meaning.
“Entrepo” (ἐντρέπω) means both to “revere” and to “shame.” “Entrepo” is a composite word made up of the preposition ἐν (en- Strongs #1722) which means “in, at, on, by” and the noun τροπή (trope- Strong’s #5157) which means “a turning, change, mutation.”
When I was a little boy, whenever my Father or Mother reprimanded or corrected me, I had to lower my gaze as an act of submission. For Hispanics (and most cultures around the world) gazing intently into the eyes of parents when reprimanded is considered to be an act of insubordination and dismissal of Parental authority. The act of bowing our heads in submission to our Parents is the same posture we use when praying to God the Father. No difference…
The Greek word “Entrepo” denotes a physical expression in which the person lowers his or her head as an act of submission or shame, depending on the context. This same word is used in Hebrews 12:9 (ESV) when describing the “respect” (entrepo) that the author had for his earthly Father:
“Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected (revered-entrepo) them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?”
If today’s Christians desire to continue to destroy Christ’s Church, then by all means they should continue espousing their attitude of minimizing the Pastoral office and desecrating its position of teaching authority. But if Christians desire to experience true Christianity, they must first seek to obey the words of Lord Jesus. (Luke 6:46)
That includes revering, respecting, loving, cherishing, obeying, honoring and imitating our Pastor-Teachers, for it is they who will have to render an account to Lord Jesus for our souls.
It is Pastors who run the risk of being “cut to pieces” and thrown into utter darkness from the Majesty of Lord Jesus for not feeding and leading the Church in His stead and by His command. (Matthew 24:44-51)
Your Pastor is the “Angel” or “Messenger” of God in your congregation (Revelation 1:20) . Obey, submit and revere your Pastor, because to do otherwise would not be of any advantage to you, but God will bless him for the sufferings you have inflicted upon him through your insubordination and lack of appreciation of the office and responsibility he carries.
If you cannot revere your Pastor whom you can see, then it might be a sign that you do not revere or respect the One whom he represents. One cannot both claim “harmony” with Christ, while at the same time disregard His explicit Teachings.
**The photographs in this article are of the day of my ordination to the Apostolic Presbytery (Council of Elders/Pastors). These were the men that oversaw my training, examined me rigorously and recommended my ordination in September of 1999.
My direct Teacher, the Reverend Rafael Fraguela is in the first picture at the top. I am still just a spiritual babe in comparison to these giants of the Faith.