Modern pastors, modern wonder. God says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made but pentecostal pastors are awesomely and majestically made. Sartorially speaking, I found most pentecostal pastors too elegant, too dapper and too vain. They drip of bespoke tailoring of expensive materials. They walk like an emperor to the altar with all their regalia flowing to the dazed amusement of their stunned worshippers. Sometimes, our ohhhs and ahhhhs are drowned by the sweet smelling perfumes bought on evangelical trips to London, Paris, Milan and New York. Majority of them have abandoned modest dressing for couture shirts, trousers, jackets, ties and even handkerchiefs. With their supposedly modest pay, their wardrobes are stuffed with labels such as Armani, Boss and Gucci. Looking great for Jesus seems to be the in-thing now. Some imaginative pastors are going a step further by conditioning their afro hair to look curly and untangled. They wear gold and silver rimmed glasses, crocodile shoes and jeweleries to prove to their worshippers that they are truly blessed. Money is being spent in grooming parlours to make them look handsome, urbane and smart. Even some are taking up membership of gyms to shed excessive weight and look trim, healthy and acceptable for Christ. Richer ones are employing grooming experts to look after their wardrobe and kit them up with the latest designs.
Women pastors of Pentecostal suasion present a benumbing different picture. Certainly, the Christ they serve is not one of poverty but opulence. To prove this, they have taken opulence to the height of shameless display of sartorial superabundance. The clothes, shoes, wigs, attachments, weave on, watches, perfumes, manicured hands, pedicure foot , shimmering lips, jeweleries all attest to the fact that our God is truly Jehovah Jireh who is ‘overmeeting’ the needs of our Amazonians preachers 24/7. There is paganistic adulation for what they wear. The saying that you are what you wear is finding resonance among the elite camp of our Pentecostal overlords. To our brothers and sisters of other faiths we may not be presenting the humility which Christ spoke about tirelessly.
It is always hard for me to discern the real purpose behind the couture madness when pastors are supposed to be humble, modest, unassuming, gentle and kingdom minded. That is not the case in many instances. Ephemeral, perishable, intangible and temporal possessions are damaging the standing of many Pentecostal pastors. Clever ones among them have come with ready defence of their excesses by alleging that if Christ were to be here today, he would be wearing designer gears. Really? Was that the purpose of his death? So Christ resurrection is all about grandiose attire and empty preaching? This is crude logic to cover the obvious weakness of material –minded pastors who think that acceptance could be won through clothes and nothing else. Have you not wondered that when barrels are empty that they make the greatest noises?
There is worldliness on a massive scale in our churches. Pastors want to look elegant, stylish, urbane and successful like the CEO of a large corporation. Secular symbols of worldliness are turning the church upside down. All too easily our pastors and church members are losing that thread of knowledge which advises that though we live in the world, we are not of the world. Worldliness should be a real rock of offence to every Christian because of the damage it could cause to our spiritual life if not tamed. Not only is worldliness a sure rock of offence, it is also a destroyer of faith. When we are sound in Biblical doctrines so many of the Pentecostal ignorance that is everywhere would not have been. Ignorance of the word of God persists because our love of God is not deep and all engrossing. It is this biblical illiteracy that is allowing the church to accept the things that are not of God to be accepted without challenge. Pastors hide their limited knowledge of the word of God under the weight of expensive regalia. Their self worth is projected through clothes and jewelleries and not the preached word of God. Curious minds are wondering aloud and asking existential questions regarding pastoral modesty! Pomp and pageantry is competing with anointing on the altar. A man of God who is full of anointing regardless of his rags will command respect and adulation. Unfortunately, in the place of dry anointing, pastors are using sartorial panache to win respect and adulation. What does this say about pastors who are too elegant and excessive? A lot could be said about them but the one basic truth that keeps coming to me is that they are not truly broken. A truly broken pastor is a true shepherd. He is sober, quiet, unassuming, gentle, simple in appearance and not worldly wise. The anointing flows through him more when he is in rags than when he looks like a regal prince. Anointing is what brings about greatness and not superior elegance and expensive attire. This odious vanity is cascading down and infecting even members of Pentecostal churches.
Worshippers are becoming influenced by the peacock air of their elegant pastors. We spent our scarce money on clothes we do not want just to belong and be seen as being blessed even though we know that is not the case. The fear of being looked down upon and treated differently drives us into reckless spending. We want to project a false image so that we could earn the respect and affection of those around us. Pentecostal churches are turning into fashion parade grounds where we all go to strut and throw our wears on their faces every Sunday even though there is no applause at the end of our two hours catwalk. There is symbiotic relationship between the leader and the led. Pastors mesmerised us with their colourful ties, gold cufflinks, crocodile shoes and Gucci suits and we in turn, we struggle to outperform their performances.
I believe that when the impulse to acquire is not mastered, it would end up consuming us. When our vanity is not checked, it becomes the norm and everybody would start buying into it until it consumes us. So Satan, the supposedly, clever, ugly duckling and the accuser of all brethrens sows a seed of vanity and we are all reaping the work of his evil genius.