“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” – 1 Corinthians 3:7
Within a matter of weeks earlier this summer, two prominent Christian leaders renounced their faith in the Gospel. Joshua Harris, former pastor and author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and Hillsong frontman, Marty Sampson, have both stepped away from the Christian faith.
In 2014, Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, resigned from his post due to heavy scrutiny and criticism concerning his leadership and discipline. There was also an investigation into how he wrote and promoted his books.
Approximately two years later, NewSpring Church in South Carolina fired its lead pastor, Perry Noble for his addiction to alcohol and his inability to “manage his own household well…”
Mentioning the above Christian leaders was not an attempt to slander their names or point the finger at their failings. It was to demonstrate just how flawed human leaders can be. Leaders are susceptible to sin just like any other Christian. It’s important that we remember who is the true leader of the church.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he is correcting the local church’s immature behavior. Division was running rampant and the apostle felt the need to address their many shortcomings.
Church members were arguing over who was the better preacher, Apollos or Paul, “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?” Paul was scolding them for their improper view and adoration of human leaders.
“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” Here, Paul is recentering their focus on who the Corinthians should only be following and esteeming—Jesus Christ. He alone is capable of expanding the Kingdom.
When we hear of Christian leaders “falling away from the faith,” whether it’s due to a particular sin or simply walking about from God intentionally, our first reaction should be to pray. Pray for those who served under them and pray that God restores them in his timing.
We should also take the time to reexamine how we view Christian leaders. Do we hang on every word they say? Are we looking unto God’s Word for truth or a particular pastor’s interpretation of that truth? Do we make excuses for their sin and behavior? These are all important questions that must be asked.
Paul specifically says that whoever “plants the seed” or “waters the seed” ultimately doesn’t matter. “God gives the growth.” Christian leaders will fail us. Reflect on the nature of your own heart and understand that leaders have the same exact sin issue. Don’t esteem them higher than God.
Honor and respect Christian leaders but also understand that Jesus is the rock (Matthew 16:18) in which the church will be built. “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”