The Unnecessary Pastor
April 25, 2013
Updated February 27, 2014
5 comments 70 views
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:
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.
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blessings Brother, hope you feel better soon... I don't wish being sick on anyone, but if this is what came out of being sick ... ;)
and bless your heart for being willing to admit this (publicly) as a pastor...
when we pray "less of me, more of You, Jesus"... we do need to be ready for what that might look like when God answers that... because our "toes will get stepped on", we won't be "recognized", won't get the credit, etc.... and our reaction is indicative of our hearts.
one of the things I struggle with in the Church, is pastor idolatry, I did some research on this recently, and was stunned, I hadn't thought about it much before, and then find out that it is a fairly significant issue in the Church...
it is so easy for us to talk about the "dynamic" pastor and his message/ministry, instead of how the "dynamic" Holy Spirit ministered to us through that person. It seems we can often be more drawn to our pastors than to Jesus... we fail to recognize the anointing of the Holy Spirit it seems... instead we are impressed with the dynamic, winsome ways of the person... if we think about it, of course we will say, those are their gifts from the Holy Spirit, that's a basic assumption that doesn't have to be spoken.... but I do struggle that our language when how we talk does not reflect that... we are to acknowledge Him in all our ways (Prov 3:6).
wow, yeah, this does hit on a nerve for me... recently I've been contemplating the structure of worship services, with one person getting most of the focus/attention, and wonder where is the prophetic table where EACH brings something for edification, where ALL will prophesy, so that ALL may learn, and ALL may be encouraged (I Cor 14:26,31 NKJV)... your "community group" gathering sounds like that is where something like that happens more so than the during the Sunday order of worship...
Glad you were encouraged.
Thank you, Ryan, for those words. I have been a pastor for over 50 years, and the words that thrill me and humble me the most are: "Thank you, Pastor, for coming; and for that prayer. It was just what I needed."
What a blessing!
I love Ryan's words. Wonderful, profound, well written and even humorous. Thank you. Of course, though the priesthood of all believers has always been theoretically acknowledged, Reformed churches have not practised it much within the church. Pastors are considered necessary to preach and "do" the sacraments and, all too often, to pray. It is part of the unfinished Reformation. Pastors are never necessary, though they can be useful when they serve as coaches to the people to develop their gifts and to exercise them in the church and world both. There is no inherent reason for the clerical domination of the sacraments or anything else.
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