It is lamentable when a boy in his teens is still tied to his mother's apron strings. Yet is it not equally deplorable for those who have been Christians many years to be tied to their pastor's apron strings? Yet how often we witness this very thing. There is a certain class who seem to be afraid, or at any rate unwilling, to think for themselves--to search the Scriptures for themselves, and act accordingly--and we suspect that in many cases the preacher is as much to be blamed as they are. It is true that he is their teacher, and as such he should possess a wider and deeper knowledge of spiritual things than they have. Yet it is his duty to instruct them and familiarize themselves with God's Word, and thus they become qualified to "Test all things--and hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess. 5:21). In other words, the preacher is not to be a nurse unto them all their lives!
It has long been our conviction that the preacher who is really of greatest service to his people is the one who makes them most independent of human help, and casts them back directly upon God Himself. For souls to run to their pastor every time they are in trouble or look to him to solve all their spiritual problems is virtually to give him the same place in their lives as the deluded Catholics give their "priests." This is not only to rob God of His glory, but also retards their spiritual progress. It is with God Himself that I most need to deal, and any man who comes between me and the Lord is really a hindrance, no matter how good his intentions may be. Moreover, the preacher is human, and therefore liable to err, but God is omniscient and never misdirects. "If any of you lacks wisdom--let him ask of God." (James 1:5).
Sooner or later there comes a time in the lives of most real Christians when those words, "Stop trusting in man!" (Isaiah 2:22) are applied to their hearts in Divine power. This will not mean that they now refuse to hear God's servants or read their writings [ or have proper and biblical relationships with their pastors-- MT ], but that they will no longer place the same blind confidence in their teachers as the Catholics do in their priests. Instead, they will emulate the Bereans, who did not mechanically accept what they heard, even from the lips of the Apostle Paul, but "examined the Scriptures every day--to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11).
- A. W. Pink