In 1Corinthians Paul is writing to warn the Corinthians about the confidence that they have placed in human wisdom. They preferred leaders who prized form over content, prestige above humility, the medium above the message, reputation above integrity, and rhetoric above truth. In contrast Paul writes to the believers in Corinth:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech of wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1Corinthians 2:1-5).

This morning I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who serves as a pastor in Alabama. We talked this morning about the perception among most lay people that their pastors are (and perhaps should be) more gifted, more spiritual and possess greater faith than they do as individuals. While we must certainly affirm that the Scriptures demand that believers respect and honor the office of pastor/elder/overseer, this is different than assuming, or even expecting, that your pastors are necessarily the stronger vessels within the Christian community. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that godly pastors may actually(and perhaps should actually) be the weaker vessels. 

Before I go on, I need to make a clear distinction. By weaker vessel I do not necessarily mean less gifted. Pastors may be more blessed with more natural or spiritual gifts than the common lay person in leadership, preaching/teaching, administration, etc. Yet, at the same time, they may also struggle with more significant spiritual weakness than the common believer within the local church.

These weaknesses may be rooted in the temptation to use the office of pastor to secure status or security within the pattern of this culture. This weakness would be exploited by pride, jealousy or evny. These weaknessses may be rooted in the temptation to place our confidence or competence in ministry in our natural or spiritual abilities rather than the gospel (2Cor 3:4-6). These weaknesses may be compromised by the fact that pastors live in fish bowls. Thus, the temptation is to isolate ourselves more than we should from others simply because we fear the shame of public humiliation that comes from confessing to one another that we share in the weaknesses and temptations of the flesh that our common to man. This weakness is exaserbated by the fact that some people have unreasonable expectations for their pastors, or demand that pastors live to higher standards than other Christians (even though the qualifications for both pastors and deacons are remarkably similar to the demands set forth in the gospel for all Christians; 1Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)

But here is the thing: this weakness is a good thing because the gospel and Jesus are most clearly displayed in weakness. If we function in this world out of our strength, where is our need for God or the Holy Spirit? If our competency is rooted in our giftedness or efficiency, how then is Jesus prized above all when we are all others can see?