I have the greatest respect for the man with whom I pastor. His heart's desire is to be in God's presence and to pastor people. Though some may only know him by his well-known last name or best-selling book, those who really know him have one unanimous observation: He really loves God and people. Unapologetically, I esteem him.
As all pastors, Sam Hinn has a few recurring remarks that stick in one's mind: "We are changed in God's presence, not in the presence of a man;" "Don't bring your offense with you. Leave with a blessing;" "Relationship and covenant are more important than anything else" and "Let another man esteem you."
I recognize not all of these truisms may have originated with him. What's refreshing is that he walks the talk. Similarly Kong Hee, who pastors in Singapore, reminds us that our core value in God's kingdom is to "love God wholeheartedly and love people fervently." I have noticed that, like Sam, he does just that.
Naomi Dowdy doesn't just preach about women in ministry; she lives it. Traveling around the world, she equips church leaders to birth New Testament cell churches, and she pastors a 5,000-member church that exemplifies what she teaches.
Tommy Barnett has hugged people in the foyer--and on the deadliest streets of Phoenix and Los Angeles--for decades. Joyce Meyer and Marilyn Hickey have hearts for teachers as well as the streets and the world outside their ministries.
T.D. Jakes takes seriously multiethnic ministry, and Jack Hayford pastors and teaches one-on-one just as effectively as when he ministers to thousands. Ted Haggard cares more deeply for his pastoral team than he does for himself. I could list so many more examples.
Countless pastors love their spouses and children, keeping the covenant of marriage faithfully. Only space stops me from writing endlessly and naming tens of thousands of notable and unknown people in ministry who inspire us in ministry. With all the reports of fallen leaders, we too often fail to "esteem others above ourselves."
Our goal in ministry is not to be like another person's ministry but to be like Christ. Paul did commend others in ministry to, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1, NKJV).
Don't be discouraged by reports of fallen leaders. There are millions of godly leaders to esteem. Our focus is not on the fallen but on Jesus. He has given us many saints with "skin on" from whom to learn the real things of the Spirit. *
Larry Keefauver co-pastors The Gathering Place Worship Center in Lake Mary, Fla. He is the author of Lord, I Wish My Teenager Would Talk With Me (Charisma House).