I am writing this blog post from my upstairs bedroom. Tonight is Tuesday which means 15-20 adults and another 10 kids will descend on our house for community group. It is a time every week where we discuss what it means to follow Jesus in the world, pray for one another, share a meal, and figure out ways to serve our city.
Tonight is different because I am sick. I am writing this post from my bed as I nurse a double ear infection, sinus infection, and lingering bronchitis. Praying these horse sized pills of antibiotics will kick in and I will be healed soon. Everything in me wants to be downstairs enjoying Christian fellowship and growing together.
This is the quandary of the pastor. How important are we? I sit here knowing that I could lead the Bible study just as well or better than my apprentice leader. “I went to seminary for crying out loud.” I know when someone is hurting I will have the right Scriptures to comfort them and of course the perfect verbiage to ease their soul. Tonight there are new people in the group and of course, I, the pastor, need to meet them and help them feel welcome… that is what we do.
What a sham. I am learning that being a pastor is not about having the perfect text picked out for the anxious soul, articulating with winsome ease encouraging words to the grieving, dying, depressed, and preaching sermons where riots break out in the parking lot because of the work of the gospel (think Apostle Paul in Ephesus). I am learning by God’s grace the role of the pastor is about becoming unnecessary.
When God decided to create me in my mother’s womb he wired me a certain way (Ps. 139). He gave me a personality, experiences, aptitude, gifts, and opportunities. In 1999, when God began wooing me towards pastoral ministry He knew the incompleteness of humanity He was working with. I don’t have the gifts, talents, and abilities to be everything to everyone. I am lacking. I am only wired and competent in certain areas of ministry. I need a variety of gifts and abilities in our local church to complement my own inadequacies for life and ministry. Thank you Lord for the church.
I am learning because of my lack the best thing I can do as a pastor is threefold:
- Be present.
I sat in a hospital room when a two year old boy fell two stories and landed on his head. I cried with a teenage girl who had attempted suicide for the third time. I have been in the room of a drug addict who threatened to kill me.
In all of these situations I was completely helpless. I did not know what to say or do. But, I knew the best strategy was to be present, serve, and pray for the people the best I knew how.
When I reflect on these situations anyone could have been in the room. These people didn’t need the “professional” clergy to come to their rescue. They needed God to come to their rescue. They needed Jesus to heal their wounds and make them right with Him. They needed the peace and grace of Jesus to come in power. That is what I need. That is what all people need.
So I sit here sniffling and feeling pretty crumby. Realizing that I am not needed. I am unnecessary. The Bible study will be great, new people will get connected, and people will be ministered to with the power of the gospel.
And I had nothing to do with it. I am going back to bed.