Who is your favorite pastor?

Who is your favorite pastor? This question gets asked a lot and in different forums. And the answers are just as numerous. “I like so and so from the Lutheran Hour,” or “I like what’s his face from BJS,” or “I like Pastor something or other from Fort Wayne.” Everybody has their favorite.

But is there a correct answer to this question? Who should be your favorite pastor? To help us get to the right answer, let us meditate on Paul’s first letter to Corinth. The Corinthians were divided. And each group had its favorites: Paul, Apollos, Cephas (Peter), or even Jesus.

The Apostle Paul calls the Corinthians on their rubbish: “For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?”[1] Here, Paul is saying that those who attach themselves to their “favorite” preachers are acting according to their sinful flesh. This is not according to the Spirit of God; this sort of division is wicked.

And Paul goes on to speak of the instrumental role of pastors: “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos . . . So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.”[2]

God is the Efficient Cause of our faith: beginning, middle, and end. But God works through means, like pastors. Just as we say that a hammer or a saw don’t build a house, we cannot say that pastors who plant the seed or those who water the plant of faith give the growth because God gives the growth. However, the pastors are God’s instruments for preserving and extending His kingdom.

So, let us return to the question: who is your favorite pastor? The answer must be this: your favorite pastor is the pastor who is rightly called to your congregation, who baptizes, preaches and feeds the Lord’s sheep with the Sacrament of the altar.

Your pastor may not be the most eloquent. Your pastor may not be the smartest. Your pastor may not be the most personable. But God gave him to you. God plants and increases faith in you through him. You honor God when you love and favor your pastor.

Listen to other pastors. Learn from them. But these “cool” pastors, if they are orthodox, will encourage you to listen to your rightly called pastor. Even Luther, the first “cool” pastor of the Reformation had this to say:

If we emphasize the matter of the call, we can worry the devil. A parish pastor can claim that he possess the office of the ministry, baptism, the sacrament, the care of souls, and is commissioned, publicly and legally. Therefore the people should go to him for these things. But the alien interlopers and plotters can make no such claim and must confess that they are strangers and graspingly seek what is not theirs. This cannot be of the Holy Spirit.[3]



[1] 1 Corinthians 3:4

[2] 1 Cor. 3:5,7

[3] LW Vol. 40, pg. 385


Who is your favorite pastor? — 6 Comments

  1. God bless those who remember to pray for their pastors. But, speaking as one of those pastors, let me identify one of the most profound ways to support your pastor in his ministry. Go to church.

    Pastor Larry Peters
    Grace Lutheran Church in Clarksville, TN

  2. We are too pastor-centric as in the sense of the personality of the pastor can overshadow the Word. Mention a congregation and the response is often ‘oh Pastor So-and-so’.

  3. I think we all can agree that most people searching for a church home base their membership decision on whether a particular pastor connects with them. Are his sermons compelling and engaging? Does he have a good “bedside manner”? Does he have a good sense of humor? Is he popular? etc. These are all superficial to the question they really should be asking, “Is he faithful to his ordination vows, and is he apt to teach?” The sheep don’t know what they don’t know and the undershepherd must feed them with pure doctrine notwithstanding any adverse consequences. God’s holy word doesn’t need to be cleaned up and dressed up in the latest cultural finery. The pure Gospel should not be obscured because some might be put off by the unconcealed preaching of the forgiveness of sins and the offense of the cross. The undershepherd is not a hireling. He will not feed his sheep sawdust or allow the wolf to scatter the flock but will lay down his life for them, knowing that, ultimately, the local congregation is empowered with the office of calling an ordained servant of the Word. Therefore, they need guidance from the Confessions to be well informed in order to fulfill their vocation properly.

  4. I’d have to say the beloved pastor we buried Saturday, Rev. Michael Graham. Emmanuel, Aurora, Il. Born in LCMS, in 1935, so I’ve worshipped under or with a number of pastors. Have never felt so close to one as this man. We were blessed to have him for our shepherd for 9 years.

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