A new account on Instagram is causing quite a stir in the Christian community. But I think it’s raising some important issues that we need to talk about as the church.
PreachersNSneakers is blowing up on Instagram right now.
It started just a few weeks ago with zero followers and now has over 136,000 followers as of today.
It’s controversial because it’s taking Instagram photos from celebrity pastors that they posted themselves, and putting the price tag of the shoes they are wearing next to them.
THESE PASTORS PAID HOW MUCH FOR SHOES?
These pastors are wearing shoes that cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 for a pair of shoes!
A lot of people are shocked. Some are outraged. How can these pastors wear such expensive sneakers?
People are calling these pastors false teachers. They’re calling them hypocrites, slamming their churches, and saying that they’ll never tithe to the church again.
People are saying, “I’m quitting my job. I’m in the wrong profession. I should go become a preacher because they’re making bank.”
As you scroll through the account, you see thousands of likes on each post, hundreds of comments, and you read some things that are just funny and make you chuckle a little.
But some comments are a bit alarming. Some are saying, “I’m never supporting this person’s ministry again because of the shoes that they’re wearing in this photo.”
So PreachersNSneakers is causing quite an uproar.
Now, I’m not going to lie. When I first saw this account, I was really judgmental.
I was as shocked as you are. How could someone pay so much money for a pair of shoes?
I mean, it’s shoes, guys…shoes. You wear them on your feet. Your feet are gross. They’re touching the ground all day.
That’s not a very good investment to put thousands of dollars into shoes.
What a waste of money!
I thought about how these pastors are so vain and conceited. How they’re all about their appearance, their brand and what brand they’re wearing.
That’s not what the church is about.
I buy some shoes too. In the picture above you can see that I have some Nike shoes. But I bought them on sale, and I’ve used these for a year or even two years, maybe now as a running shoe for when I’m exercising.
They’re helpful shoes. But I would never spend $3,000 for a pair of shoes. I got mine on sale for maybe $100, and even that might be considered expensive for a lot of people.
How can these people waste so much money?
STEP BACK AND LOOK IN THE MIRROR
I was frustrated at first, but then I looked in the mirror and saw some things I can learn from this.
And there are some things the church in general can learn from this too.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge, and we can look at this as a conversation that the church needs to have that can be a positive thing in the long run if we learn from it.
So here are a few things that I think we can learn from PreachersnSneakers.
1. A PASTOR’S CLOTHING ALWAYS COMMUNICATES SOMETHING.
Before you ever step on stage, your appearance speaks something. It communicates some message.
As pastors, we need to think about our appearance. What are the clothes we wear communicating to other people?
Before we ever say a word, our appearance communicates something. What we wear speaks tells a story to the people in our audience.
If you are dressing in high-end fashion and name brand stuff, you’re trying to communicate luxury, success or status.
If you are in a church wearing a suit and tie every single week, there’s something you’re trying to communicate to your people—formality, dressing your best for God, that this is important, that this is serious.
If you’re a little more hipster, and you’re wearing jeans and T-shirts, there’s something you’re trying to communicate to your people—you’re cool, down to earth, not like all those other people wearing suits and ties. You’re not the stuffy church. You’re more relaxed, more casual. Maybe you’re trying to show that God’s more for the everyday person.
You communicate with the way that you dress, whether you like it or not.
So evaluate how you are dressing. Ask, “What am I communicating to my audience, the people in our church and the community, by what I wear and how I dress?”
2. PASTORS ARE GOING TO BE JUDGED MORE SEVERELY.
It’s true. The Bible tells us in James 3:1 that not many of us should be preachers and teachers because we will be judged more severely.
Now, it’s talking about God judging us in the end, and that’s the most important and most terrifying judgment there is.
But we’re also going to be judged on earth too. Pastors and preachers are held to a higher standard, a different standard than everyone else.
If you were to invite a professional athlete or Hollywood star to come and be a guest, and they were wearing $2,000 shoes, no one would care.
Nobody would say anything. People would just expect it.
“Yeah, they have a lot of money.”
But if a pastor does that, all of a sudden everyone goes, “Whoa, hold up the red flag!” because pastors are judged more severely.
We’re supposed to be examples and imitators of Christ, living out the principles that we see in the Bible. And this extravagance and wealth that we see some pastors showing off is alarming.
People begin to judge those pastors because they don’t quite connect with what they’re saying or the Bible teaches.
Look, as a pastor, you’re going to be judged severely. You’re going to be held to an incredibly high standard, an impossibly perfect standard that you’ll never be able to reach.
But you do need to take into consideration that people are looking at you. They’re asking, “Is this person living up to what they’re teaching? Is this person living a life that’s consistent with what I’m seeing in the Bible?”
They’re going to judge you based on that. So we need to be careful.
And this leads us to point number three.
3. DON’T BE SO QUICK TO JUDGE.
Jesus tells us that before we look at the spec in our brother’s eye, we need to look at our own eyes, because we’ve got a plank in our eye most of the time.
I was quick to judge these other pastors for what they were wearing. And I realized that I’ve got to be careful.
I don’t know these guys so well. I don’t know how much money they’re making, or how much money they’re giving.
If you are wearing a thousand dollar pair of shoes, but you’re writing million dollar checks to help people, is that as bad?
I don’t know their hearts. I don’t know their character. I’ve never sat down and talked to them. I haven’t been scrutinizing their theology. I’ve got better things to worry about.
I have not taken the time to really get to know these people. So I need to be careful that I’m not so quick to judge them just based on a photo on Instagram.
We’ve got to be careful that we’re not so quick to judge our brother because of how they look. We’ve probably got a plank in our own eyes.
Maybe there are some things in our lives that we wouldn’t be so proud of if they were posted all over Instagram with the price tag of what we spent on it.
Shoes aren’t really that big of a thing for me. I buy them because I need them. That’s not a vice for me. That’s not something I’m concerned about.
But what about the other things in my life?
What about some of the technology devices that I love? What about the gadgets I love to research and purchase.
There are other things in my life that I think I’d be ashamed of if someone took a picture of it and posted it on Instagram next to the price tag.
Maybe shoes aren’t your problem either, so it’s easy to look at somebody else and say, “Oh my, they’re wearing these shoes, and living in that house!”
But maybe your problem is how much you’re spending on food, entertainment or vacations.
There are many things that we can judge other people for, but we could look right back in the mirror and realize that people could judge us for our spending habits too if they don’t know the person behind the picture.
So we need to be careful that we’re not too quick to judge other people.
ARE EXPENSIVE SHOES SINFUL?
It all boils down to this question: Is it sinful for a pastor to buy an expensive pair of shoes?
But is it sinful for a pastor to buy an extravagant pair of shoes if they’re not being generous with their money?
We can’t just be spending all of our money on ourselves, buying elaborate things, and storing up our treasure on earth and not our treasure in heaven while neglecting the poor.
If we’re not being generous, helping the poor, serving other people, and we’re just spending all of our money on extravagant things for ourselves, yes, that’s wrong.
Greed is a sin. Vanity is a sin. Pride is a sin.
Trying to be self-glorifying rather than God-glorifying is a sin.
We need to be careful about these things that could easily trip any one of us up.
So then, is it wrong for a pastor to buy an expensive pair of shoes?
It really depends.
It could be, but not always.
ARE EXPENSIVE SHOES WISE?
If it’s not always a sin, here’s perhaps a more important question: Is it unwise for a pastor to wear extravagant shoes?
Yes, it is unwise.
It’s not wise for a pastor to wear extravagant shoes because it distracts people from the message. It’s getting in the way of what they should be trying to communicate.
As evidenced by this Instagram account and all the comments people are saying, these pastors’ shoes are becoming the focal point of the conversation rather than Jesus.
That’s a problem.
It is not wise for a pastor to wear anything, anything at all, that’s going to distract from the message, the mission, and presenting the Gospels as clearly and simply to people as we can.
Anything that causes distractions like that, we need to get it out of our lives.
So for pastors, I do not believe it is wise to wear extravagant shoes that are going to get in the way.
Is what we are wearing causing harm to our message? If it is, we need to cut it out.
As pastors, let’s be modest. Let’s be humble. Let’s be wise in how we dress and how we present ourselves to our culture.
And let’s store up our treasure in heaven, not on earth. That’s what matters more than anything.
For more on this subject, check out my book, Preach and Deliver. It’s about the art of sermon delivery, including a chapter on what pastors should wear on stage.
This article originally appeared here.