Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Reluctant Pastor

One point of discussion I’ve never heard addressed is the act of returning a spiritual gift. Supposedly all people of faith in Christ have been given a gift of some kind to use in the edification of the Body. What if you don’t like yours? Can you take it back? Can you call up Jesus and ask, “can I just have the money instead?” Maybe Jesus could come into the new millennium and offer a spiritual gift card. This way we could cash it in for what we really want and what we would like to use. Here’s my quandary. He gave me a pastoral gift and I don’t want to be a pastor. I have to be blunt here. I don’t relate to pastors very well. I don’t know one that I want to aspire to be like. I’m not trying to be arrogant or offensive here, but in my limited exposure of pastors, I can’t think of one that I would want to trade places with. Pastors have to be certain. Take BibleAnswerMan, for example. I cannot relate to that guy or his radio program. He never has a doubt, always has an answer, never a dilemma, always upbeat. I, on the other hand, often doubt, feel clueless, have difficulty reconciling conflicting issues, and wander in the dark. My choices seem to be 1) try to change and be like BibleAnswerMan 2) start my own radio show called BibleDimwitMan or 3) trade in my gift for something else. Are there other pastors like me, who feel drawn to bless people, to listen, to call, to write letters (or now email) of encouragement, or to just simply enjoy a pint and talk about our questions? Why do I feel alone in my gift? Why do I want to exchange it? Why do I look around at others who are called pastor and feel disconnected from them? My idea is that we have created a huge chasm between the office of pastor and the pastoral gift. One can hold the office of pastor and never have the gift or possess the gift but to only have the office smother it. It’s my hypothesis that there are pastors hidden like gems among the flock that will never find their way into the office. And that’s probably a good thing.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You write, "One can hold the office of pastor and never have the gift or possess the gift but to only have the office smother it."

Could you elaborate on what you mean by 'having the office smother the gift'?

Watchman said...

I keep thinking of Ted Haggard's failure. I think the office may have smothered his gift. I don't want to discount his responsibility for his own actions. I just wonder if we as the church have created a lose/lose situation. Do we demand unrealistic performance from those we call pastor, and when they don't meet up, we either leave for another thing called "church" or we stop giving or we try and punish the person by dragging our feet and resisting his (or her) leadership. I wonder if we created a new form of church that required a new kind of pastor, would we see more people excited about their gift, rather than dreading it like me?

Anonymous said...

Some times the work of our current pastors in the church as we know it, is little of what a pastoral gift really is. It has become a power position and not a service position. It has become a place of one-man or woman can do it all. That does not seem to be the way it was ever supposed to be, at least not to me. The current church smothers the gift, even by saying a true pastor is the one leading the church. What does that mean to the pastor that is introverted, not really good with large crowds, but can come along side a group of folks and really minister them. Does that mean he is not a pastor. Maybe "spiritual gifts" or callings have just become personality tests, and pastor positions are more about ego, than anything spiritual at all.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that last comment was from Jack (of all trades) and not the previous anonymous poster...just to clarify.

Matt said...

Hey Watchman,

Good post. I have definitely seen people who are gifted as pastors, but are in know way in a professional ministry position.
Likewise, I have met many who go by the title of pastor, but who are really teachers, preachers, administrators, CEOs, etc..
I also agree that many enter a pastorship only to have their gift disappear among the politics of running a modern day church.

That's my 2 cents.
Cheers,
Matt

PS- I think you may be receiving your second gift, Prophecy, that is. In the sense of being one who speaks truth. Thank you for your faithfulness, Watchman.

Anonymous said...

What are the characteristics of the pastoral gift? What about your strengths put you into the pastoral category? This is not a question of doubt rather curiosity of what it means to you and who you are uniquely?

Watchman said...

anonymous #3

To me the gift implies the natural inclination to watch out for the well-being of others. It is not work to call or have coffee with a person and finding that conversation naturally turns toward listening, encouraging, weeping with or just being there. I've been told and now admit that this is what I do and have done for a number of years. The typical effort has been to make these people small group leaders, but the problem I see with it is that it does not really unleash these pastors to lead, but rather to fit in and continue to feed the Sunday morning beast.

Greg de Mello said...

Perhaps the true gift of being a pastor is best placed outside the church. I feel like you regarding this. I find that my job / vocation as a physiotherapist enables me to use my gifts in a far more dynamic way than I can within the church.
Perhaps its not about being a reluctant pastor but being a real pastor in the places where the people need the most care.

Watchman said...

Matt,

Thanks for those words.

Greg,

What an intriguing point, feeling more free to use your gift outside the church. I'm gonna think on that. You may have uncovered something for me.

watchman

Strider said...

I left West Virginia 11 years ago very burned out on traditional church life. I remember sitting at a pastor's conference and a visiting evangelist proclaimed that he loved pastors and he loved the pastor's heart. I thought, 'man what a bunch of spoiled egotistical children.' Yeah, I was a pastor and I was burned out. But healing came.
I went back a few years ago and talked to an old mentor of mine. He was an M for 39 years and had retired back to WV only to pastor a small mission that had failed more than once in the past but was now doing well under his leadership. He told me, 'I don't know anything about being a pastor so I just disciple the people.' I would that there were more nonpastors like that. Perhaps you are one?

knnuki said...

Why not be what God made you (a pastor, apparently) without having to meet anyone's expectations? Do what God has for you to do, or allows you to do, and don't even worry about how it must look to anyone else. If it doesn't match the activities or efforts of another "pastor", so what?

Be who you are in Christ, dude, and enjoy it.

Jack of All Trades said...

It is not nonpastors, it is free pastors. A few years back I was in a seminar at a "postmodern" church conference for church planters. Many if not all the pastors (many of whom were in their 20s) were talking about how they could not get members to help them. "They just tell me, that's why we pay you." I asked, "Maybe the new church should not have a paid pastor. Maybe we should just get jobs and work alongside the members to create something new." They all just stared at me. Since I have asked vocational ministry leaders (pastors, etc) what they think. They all think it is a bad idea and is not necessary. But then I realized it was because no one wants to lose a paycheck.

Think of the fear of a pastor who has no educational training, or work experience in the business world as he applies for jobs of similar pay and stature outside of ministry.

The new church needs pastors who are free and do not feel the pull to share numbers of success or programs to make themselves worthy. I truly believe the new church should have pastors, just not professional ones.