This November, I am coming up on nineteen years since I first accepted a ministry position in a church. Sure it was a part-time ministry in a small city in a church that struggled to get fifty people in its doors on a weekly basis, but it was a start.
I remember accepting the job and trying to figure out what it means to be a pastor. I figured out quickly that PG-13 movies were not all created the same as the first two movies that I played was Austin Powers and Mickey Blue Eyes. I learned that my college student eyes are entirely different than a parent’s eyes.
I am surprised I even lasted the whole year, but it was a good paycheck, and I was very honored to have the chance of pastoring.
Since that time, I got a Bachelors, and Masters degree in ministry had a few kids and served for sixteen years in full-time ministry. I had many years of struggling trying to know what it means to a pastor. I am pretty good at theology, I am no theologian, but I can sniff out a theology that isn’t biblical. I can hold my own on debates with Mormons and JW’s. I still chew on tough scriptures especially ones in the Old Testament, but my hope and faith are still rooted in Christ.
But pastoring is still tough because pastoring goes beyond theological debates on original sin, predestination or theories on revelation. I have sat at bedsides of elderly faith men struggling in death and a young kid on life support where parents are holding on a hope of a miracle before they say their last goodbyes to their children. I have been in homes of people angry over the church’s decision on a non-essential issue but at the same struggle with a teenager who is confused about their sexuality and doesn’t know how others will treat them.
It’s easy to open the gospels and see Jesus pastoring the people around him. He was blunt with some and thoughtful with others. He was angry enough to make a whip and turning tables but also quiet enough to change a crowd by drawing in the dirt. But to practice Jesus pastoring is more difficult than it appears. Because I know for me, I’ve been blunt when I should have been more thoughtful. I have been quiet when I should have turned some tables over.
Pastoring is more than theology, it’s living and loving with the people God has called you to be with every Sunday. It is a calling that isn’t about tasks and chores to be done by Sunday Morning, but a calling that involves your whole life.
I am not perfect, I have made mistakes. Thankfully there is forgiveness and grace from God.
To be an effective pastor, I need to know the hope that I have, and I need to follow Jesus in my everyday life so that people, whether they attend my church don’t, can meet Jesus through my life.
Hopefully the next nineteen plus years I continue to grow as a learner of faith but also more as a pastor that is closer to Christ.