We place some people on a pedestal, high above all others.
I first realized this many years ago when Charlotte and I were in the home of a young couple who lived in North Alabama. They were newly married. She was a Christian and he was not. We were in their home that evening because he wanted to ask some questions regarding Jesus, the Bible, Christian faith, etc.
At one point in this conversation, this young woman referred to her dad, who was a long time minister in our area. She said, “My dad has never done anything wrong.” I then asked her to explain what she meant by that. She went on to say, “I have never known my dad to say or do anything that was wrong. He never mentioned that he struggled with anything. He never apologized for anything. I just assumed for all of these years that he was perfect.”
Now I know her dad. He was a good man. Perfect? No.
Sometimes we put people on pedestals. Some of us place fathers, mothers, and other family members there. Many Christians place their minister or other church leaders on such a pedestal. Our expectations of such church leaders are incredible. Some feel very uncomfortable when they realize this is where they have been placed by . On the other hand, there are some people who seem to relish being there. Yet, the pedestal is a dangerous place to live.
Beware of living on a pedestal.
1. The pedestal does not invite a life of daily repentance. Instead, it can all too easily accommodate secrecy, distance, and rationalization.
2. The pedestal invites unreal expectations. While I may admire someone, to place them on a pedestal is a set-up for major disappointment.
3. The pedestal creates either delusion and arrogance (maybe I really am as great as they say I am), or loneliness (there is no one who I can talk with about my humanness).
Sometimes ministers who have been placed on such a pedestal find themselves living with impossible expectations. Consequently, many feel very defeated. Yet, some ministers seem to desire the pedestal. Complicating this even further, some Christians seem all too ready to place them in such a position. Perhaps it is a way of vicariously living as a Christ-follower through the minister. “I may not be doing very well in my walk with God but you ought to see my minister.”
Pedestal living can create a spirit of arrogance and entitlement. For example, the minister may live among the congregation as if he is entitled to special treatment because of the role, etc. Such a spirit of entitlement can powerfully influence a person toward making decisions that are unwise and even immoral.
Pedestal living often becomes cocoon living where one feels isolated and alone. Instead of a lifestyle marked by ongoing confession and repentance, this minister feels that he must hide and keep to himself his struggles.
We were never created to live on a pedestal nor do we do anyone any favors by placing them on one.
What are the costs of being on a pedestal? In what ways do we place someone there? Why would someone desire to be on a pedestal?