1 Samuel 1:17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
We know from the next couple of chapters that Eli was hardly an exemplary high priest, and his sons were downright despicable, but the office carried weight even so. I don’t know that he was intending to be prophetic here, but at the very least he was intending to speak blessing, and that blessing was effective. I am reminded of another High Priest who was certainly not yielded to God, but who nonetheless spoke an important prophetic Word. “Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” (John 11:49-52) He was actively involved in killing the Son of God, and yet he spoke God’s plan of salvation in a nutshell! The office a person holds is important, so whether they are worthy of that office or not, their words and actions carry weight. I am reminded of the fact that my father’s certificate for the Order of the Imperial Treasury that was awarded at the time of his death is signed by Kakuei Tanaka, the only prime minister ever to be convicted of receiving bribes. That signature of a deeply flawed man does not diminish the award. We are not to let titles blind us, but neither are we to despise an office because it is currently held by an unworthy occupant.
This is of course extremely applicable to churches. A pastor is not above their flock, but the office carries weight. The person holding the office must never forget that it is a weight of responsibility, not privilege. I have to answer to God for my every decision and action, even more so than someone not in my position. (James 3:1) I have found, sometimes painfully, that my words carry weight, and so can wound more easily than those of someone else. Like Eli, I need to speak blessing and give hope. The hope that he imparted to Hannah may well have been the factor that enabled her to conceive! Every believer is a representative of Christ, (Acts 1:8) but as a pastor, even the world looks on me that way. By God’s grace I am to do that faithfully, not distorting the image they get, so that as many as will may come to Him and receive life.
Father, at times I am blown away by how You use even my mistakes for good, but I’d rather not put You to that trouble! Help me fulfill Your calling, Your commission, in every respect, so that all of Your plans for me may come to pass, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!