I love John Wayne movies.  From the earliest black and whites to the final blockbusters before he died, the Duke was a masterful actor.  Although he played plenty of different roles, most of his movies were westerns and that’s how we tend to remember him.

  My favorite of the older ones is Fort Apache.  In this film, Wayne’s character is a captain in Apache territory serving under a colonel  (played by Henry Fonda) who needs to be somewhere else because he doesn’t understand the native American people he is trying to coexist with.  In the end, the colonel causes a major battle that results in the death of almost all of his men.  Before he dies he sends Wayne away and gives this admonition: “When you command this regiment, and you probably will, command it!”  Good words for a military man, but what about a pastor?

  Too many preacher try to be Fort Apache pastors.  They want to be in command.  It is true that in the book of Hebrews the church is told to obey those who have the rule over you, speaking of pastors.  But is this passage teaching a commander mentality?  Some apparently think so.

  I have seen pastors who felt like they should have the final say on every decision.  They are, after all, the boss.  They are the one being led by God.  They are the one studying and praying.  The congregation should recognize this and fall in line.

  Although I believe there are indeed times that a pastor must step up to the plate and be the leader and make some decisions, I don’t for a minute think that this is the regular way for a church to do business.  Jesus had no such mentality.  He taught that the best way to lead was to serve.  In fact, He said that whoever wanted to be great in His kingdom must become the servant of all.  On the night of His betrayal, He humbly washed the disciple’s feet.

  Now the commander crowd would argue that you can do all of that and still be in charge.  But the whole concept of being in charge is the problem.  Jesus Himself is to be the head of the church, not a pastor or anyone else for that matter.  If a church is to have the right kind of leadership, it must begin with the Lord and number one!

  I readily admit that there are plenty of churches that go to far in the other direction.  They treat the pastor like a paid employ and expect him to follow their directions.  Guess what?  If you are part of a church like that you have a whole bunch of Fort Apache types—they just aren’t in the pulpit!  If you are a party to this kind of thinking, you will only hurt your church and probably run off a perfectly good pastor.

  But the bottom line is that the church is the bride of Christ.  As such, it must be subject to Christ and follow His will, not the desires of man.  A congregation led by Jesus through the power of His Holy Spirit will not have to worry about who is in charge.  Everyone will know because the power of God will make it evident that He is the boss—and would you want it any other way?