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Johann Brahms (1833-1897), long considered one of the world’s greatest conductors, composers and pianists once said, “The fact that people do not understand and respect the very best things, such as Mozart’s concertos, is what makes it possible for men like us to become famous.” These words constitute a beautiful and thought provoking expression of humility and underscore an often overlooked truth.


There are many pastors today who are virtually “unknown” by men, yet “well known” by God; the kind of men of whom the world isn’t, and has never been, “worthy” (2 Cor. 6:9; Heb. 11:38). These pastors, week after week, year after year provide God’s people with extraordinary and excellent peaching and teaching. They do it with an excellent spirit in relative obscurity. By way of contrast, there are many so-called “pulpiteers” with charisma and an entertaining style, who can’t (in terms of true biblical preaching) preach their way out of the proverbial “paper bag.” But men, heavy in personality and light in substance, are popular, held in high esteem, often in the limelight, etc.


If more of God’s people were able these days to “understand and respect the very best things” in terms of pastoring, preaching and overall gospel ministry, many of them would esteem their own pastors a little more highly than they do (1 Thess. 5:13). Simultaneously, many popular pastors would be less “famous” and lose undeserved status overnight.


Solomon wrote, “I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking” (Ecc. 10:7). Too many preachers are undeservingly “in the saddle” in people’s minds while too many others are undeservedly, “walking.” It’s all right to esteem and honor pastors. We’re told to do it (Phil. 2:3; 1 Thess. 5:13; 1 Tim. 5:17). Good men receive this humbly and are encouraged by it. But, let’s make sure we’re esteeming and honoring those people and things that God deems worthy of esteem and honor. Often, “what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).


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