If you haven’t watched any of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars you don’t watch enough television! Maybe I’m being sarcastic, but it’s a pretty interesting show. The show is about a pawn shop in Las Vegas and the characters – the pawn stars - that own it. People come into the shop with all kinds of things they want to sell, and the negotiations begin. It’s good entertainment, and you can learn a little history in the process.
History teaches us a lesson or two about some pawn stars of the past, albeit, a different kind of pawn star. In Scripture, we find evidence that a number of leaders and kings who were little more than pawns of foreign powers and interests, especially as Israel disintegrated into separate kingdoms and many of those who ascended to power “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”
For example, after the good king, Josiah, was killed at Megiddo by an alliance of Assyrian and Egyptian armies, his son, Jehoahaz, became king. He was captured by the Egyptians and imprisoned. Pharaoh Neco then put Eliakim, another of Josiah’s sons, on the throne. Essentially, Eliakim was nothing more than a puppet king and a pawn of Egypt. Things didn’t end well for him or Judah.
We seem to have no shortage of pawn stars in today’s political culture. Many of those elected to leadership are often mere pawns of powerful, influential, and deep-pocketed interest groups.
Church leaders are not called to be pawns of powerful groups or influential people in the church (or outside the church for that matter). Biblical leaders are called to be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and shepherd-leaders of God’s people.
A pawn star leader is a LINO – a leader in name only. Really, he’s just a puppet of those behind the screen. He’s being manipulated, used, and moved around on the church chessboard by the hand of a worldly master.
Effective leaders are wise to the dangers of forming unhealthy alliances; they are discerning of those who attempt to manipulate; they are strong in their resolve to remain free in Christ; and they are fearless in their obedience to a God-given vision. Great leaders never surrender their call to biblical leadership to worldly puppeteers or chess masters.
They know that once you become a pawn, you’ll never be a bishop.
Hal West spent 33 years as a pastor with an emphasis on creating effective change and transition in a traditional church setting. He is the President of Compass Coach and Consulting (compasscoachandconsulting.com) whose mission is to assist pastors and churches find the road to success. He has authored 3 books. His latest is The Pickled Priest and the Perishing Parish: Boomer Pastors Bouncing Back (CrossBooks Publishing, 2011)