As a pastor it is easy to get carried away doing this and that, wearing different hats, doing different things –good things, mind you. Yet, in the middle of doing and being this and that, it is very, very easy to forget what it means to be a Pastor. Dave Workman, pastor of the Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, recently brought this tension in the pastorship with a light-hearted, but serious post about the “top 5 things pastors should stop pretending to be.” In the post Dave states the following:
“…the pastor’s main duty is making sure the mission of the local church is carried out, and primarily that’s finding lost people and shepherding them through the process of seekers to servants. And so we have to lean into the expertise of theologians and biblical scholars we’ve learned to trust. It doesn’t mean that we don’t study; it simply means there are people who only and solely do that as a vocation for the purpose of schooling pastors like me. In many ways, a pastor has to be a generalist. We should best be able to pass on creedal basics and lead and shepherd the local church.”
This concept of what it means to be a pastor echoes the words of Eugene Peterson in his book “The Pastor: A Memoir” – a book, by the way, that that have greatly influenced my own thoughts on what it means to be a pastor:
“I was not primarily dealing with people as problems. I was a pastor calling them to worship God….Congregations is a company of people who are defined by their creation in the image of God, living souls, whether they know it or not. They are not problems to be fixed, but mysteries to be honored and revered. Who else in the community other than the pastor has the assigned task of greeting men and women and welcoming them into a congregation in which they are known not by what is wrong with them, but by who they are, just as they are?”
In other words, a pastor isn’t someone with all the answers, or someone who does everything – they are, at the core, someone who stands in the middle of the community calling people to worship God. They, we, are a bell ringing in the day and a light on a hill, reminding folks that God is real and is passionately in love with them. It is as Archbishop of Canterbury-elect Justin Welby said this week at the Vineyard UK/Ireland National Leaders’ Conference:
“The key piece of advice for Christian leaders is that you have to be the one who is growing closer to Jesus; closing closer in your love for Jesus – and nothing else counts. The rest is decorations. If you are not doing that, you’re wasting your time. Nothing else counts, however skillful you are.”
It really is that simple. Love Jesus with all you soul, heart, mind and strength, and then love others as yourself.