Reflections on Being a Pastor

I am a pastor. I didn’t ask to be a pastor. Church work did not have a table set up when we had Vocation Day in high school. Being a pastor is something God calls you to do. God called me to be a pastor. I went to school to learn the how’s of pastoring. I received an excellent education. I learned to exegete the Scriptures. Set up church systems. Classes on counseling. Pastoral care. I had a class on Church Growth. I truly appreciate the education I received. I encourage others to place themselves in such an environment. It has truly helped me.

I would note that as good as my education was, I was not ready for the dynamics, the undercurrents, the “politics” of church life. I am not sure seminary can prepare you for all that. It is something you must experience and learn and figure out.

I would also observe that as you work in church there are many people within the church that are very willing to “mention” to you how you should be doing your job. How you should follow up with people. How you should preach and teach. “You don’t need notes. Just get up and speak and the Holy Spirit will give you the right words.” He does. But I also like to prepare. Write down what I feel he wants me to say. Oh yes by the way don’t speak about my favorite sin. Sometimes it is living with someone without being married to them. Or gambling – “If I win, I will tithe off the winnings.” Footnote – I checked the giving record, and you are not currently tithing. I am just a little suspicious of you tithing off your lottery winnings. And be careful about preaching on gossip. Many church people don’t gossip they take prayer requests. “Have you heard about Ken and Barbie? They are going through a difficult time. Ken’s mother called Barbie and told her a thing or two about how to clean house, cook dinner, fold clothes, and how to take care of the 3 kids that they had in the last 4 years. Remember to pray for them.

When I think of pastoring, I think of Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So, when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” – John 10:11-13

Notice how he describes the difference between the true shepherd and the hired hand. The hired hand doesn’t love the sheep like the shepherd does. The shepherd is bound by love and grace for the sheep. He even says how he would lay down his life for the sheep. Over the years I have had to come to terms with the amount of dying I have encountered. Obviously, people die and pass away. And then I get to work with the families and loved ones left behind. Their grief and their mourning. But there is also a dying to self. Dying to my ambitions and allowing Christ to live through me. Dying to my way of doing things and allowing Christ to speak through me.

I would also note that I have had to adjust my life to allow for the carrying of heartache and pain and suffering. The burden of other people’s sorrow and failings. Seeing them create messes in their lives and then trying to walk beside them through the consequences and the darkness of the place they are in. Assuring them that yes even in this valley of shadows God can work. We need to give him time, permission, and opportunity to what only he can do.

I should also mention the sacrifice my children and my wife have had to make for me to be a pastor. I have missed anniversary celebrations, birthday parties, and other things in their lives because I was trying to care for people in the church. I pray that the sacrifice was not too great. I truly believe that pastoring begins at home. It began with my wife, my children – Adam, Lauren, and Kaitlyn. I hope they know how greatly they are loved by me and by God. I pray for them every day of my life. I pray God’s richest blessings on them.

I should not that I get to serve under the shadow of the great shepherd Jesus Christ. He has me in his “shepherding” school. It is a learning environment you never graduate from. There are always more things to learn.

I get to teach and explain the message of the Bible to others. To counsel with them in the darkest moments of their lives and share the light of Jesus. I get to do this. I am so very thankful that He has called me to be a pastor, a shepherd for his flock. In Jesus name amen.