It’s easy for a pastor to convince him or herself that our primary calling is to the role we play within the context of the congregation we serve.
It’s natural to assume that when we are with our people, we are there in a particular capacity that demands a specific role.
For example, when I am engaged in pastoral care, in the privacy of my office, I am often tempted to play the role of ‘fixer,’ or ‘advocate,’ or ‘super counselor who solves everyone’s problems with ease and grace,’ etc.
Then, when I am in a meeting with elders, deacons, or various ministry teams I sense a need to play the role of visionary, leader, team-builder, or manager.
The Danger of Distance and Despair in a Role
Once I convince myself that the primary calling of my life is about the roles I play in my life, then it becomes easy for me to distance myself from the people I serve. As the distance grows (subtly but with certainty), the voice in my head tells me that I sit above, apart from, or over, as an ‘expert’ of sorts, the dear members of my congregation.
I most enjoy lemons in the vast array of pies, tarts, cookies, and cakes Melissa takes the time to bake.
To enjoy lemons, in any form, dozens of things must happen first.
I won’t list all of those things (because I don’t know them), but I will note a handful that are helpful for our analogy of cultivating/curating.
A seed is planted.
A tree must grow in soil that is conditioned and nurtured to encourage its growth.
Bugs, insects, and a variety of other air-born pestilences must be vigilantly guarded against.
A bloom bursts forth.
A fruit grows from the bloom.
The fruit ripens on the tree.
Eventually, someone picks the fruit.
Well, you get the picture!
At some point, I finally get to sink my teeth into some form of lemon-infused dinner, drink, or dessert!
An Ancient Art!
In order for any of this to take place, however, the soil in which the lemon is first planted must be healthy soil that’s been nurtured, tended, literally arranged and organized in order for a fruit or plant to grow from it!
Transforming Pastoral Leadership: What, Why, and How!
As I said in my first post, these reflections on pastoral ministry will be rolling out piecemeal. With this installment, I am going to hit the pause button. Really, the rewind button and take you back to 1995.
I married Melissa, my wife of nearly twenty-three years now, on July 29, 1995. Within two weeks of our wedding day, we were invited to join a church and serve in a position of Associate Pastor of Youth and Children.
The church was Oak Grove Church of God in Tampa, Fl.
I’ve loved everywhere I’ve served. I’ve even enjoyed the churches that weren’t so loving during the time of my service with them.
But Tampa was special.
Many of the kids who were a part of our first ministry are now grown with families of their own. Some of the most enjoyable correspondence Melissa and I have is with these grown men and women with whom we began our first ministry assignment.
Just a couple of months before starting at Oak Grove, in May of 1995, I graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. As is the case with most seminary graduates, I left with the confident assurance that I was going to show a church how ministry should be done.
Answering Questions No One Is Asking
Also, of course, I was coming with all the answers in hand.