I’m Not Your Pastor…Yet.

bible3I love being a pastor. I love the sense of God’s call on my life and the way I have been invited to respond to the call.

Now as I prepare to join in God’s work among a people I do not yet know in a land I am only passingly familiar with, I find myself reflecting on how one becomes a pastor to a people. I suggest there is a progression of relationship I do well to keep before me as I explore this emerging opportunity. In fact, I think I will be called to serve in three related, but separated roles: Priest, Pastor, and Prophet.  Knowing when to act as each may be the difference between successfully participating in furthering the Kingdom of God or not. (Yes. I think this is that important.)

 

Start Here: Priest
When I show up on day one, I come as Priest. I bring the authority to order and preside over worship.
I will administer the sacraments. I will officiate the weddings. I will bury our dead. It is the observance of our rituals where I will be called to lead.
This is an important role rooted in the earliest expressions of our faith. It is a Priest who calls the people to worship. To remember and remind the people of God’s promises. To offer intercession and other forms of prayer. To sing the songs that shape us as God’s people.

This work was so important one of the twelve tribes of Israel was set apart to serve the people in this way with others supporting them and providing for their livelihood; a practice continued with many of our modern-day clergy.

Over time and through shared experiences, those I serve as Priest will come to be known by be and to know me.  We will build trust in one another and come to see each other as companions on the journey. When trust becomes acceptance and genuine care and concern is shared, I will move from simply being a Priest into a more intimate role.

 

Grow Here: Pastor
Though my title may be Pastor when I arrive, the title precedes the relationship. One becomes Pastor, one cannot be assigned as Pastor. Becoming suggests a growing or an unfolding. And this is the way of all relationships. Some will come to accept me as Pastor sooner than others. Some may not at all. That’s because relationships take time, they involve people and personalities, and they don’t follow formulas or well-defined steps.

When the relationship does blossom into one of mutual trust and care, the role of Pastor mirrors Jesus’ relationship with his disciples.  The Pastor identifies with the people she/he serves as a friend and a partner in ministry.  The Pastor willingly sacrifices for these friends as they explore increasingly deeper levels of love for God and for each other. There may not be a greater joy in life than to be considered someone’s Pastor.

The Pastor may fulfill their greatest responsibility, albeit their more difficult one, when they can speak into the lives of others, not from a place of perceived superiority (spiritual or otherwise), but from the place of deep love.  Frequently the words spoken from this place are challenging, perhaps even confrontational, and yet they may be the ultimate expression of our calling.

 

Challenge Here: Prophet
Provocateur. Trouble-maker. Upsetter of apple carts and money-changing tables. Call them what you will, Prophets are change agents. Given enough time (Oh, how I have rushed this!), Prophets warn, remind, and challenge the people. It is as Prophet that we encourage people to walk to the edge of the comfort zone and step into new territory. It is the Prophet who declares “Thus says the LORD!”  It is the Prophet who brings the harsh word that is often hard to hear.

I may never gain the level of trust needed to be Prophet. I may never get a hearing with the people I am called to lead. I will likely feel compelled to speak the prophetic word nonetheless. However, if I try to short-circuit the relationship, if I seek a fast-track to speaking the vision placed on my heart, if I rush to push/pull/prod the people without first building the relational capital necessary to share the fire burning in my bones, we will all suffer for it.

So as I make my transition to a new land and a new people, I will start where I can start; I will do what I have been given permission by the people to do. I pray for the wisdom to know when I have been granted more authority, when I have been invited into a new relationship and a new role. This calling is too important to do anything less.

 

Life is better together,
Shawn

12 responses to “I’m Not Your Pastor…Yet.

  1. My friend, we have been so blessed to have you as our Pastor and friend, and the fact that you’re praying and thinking about your new role so much goes to show how blessed your new congregation will be by you, too. They are so very blessed to have you coming and they don’t even know it yet—how fun is that?! 🙂 Keep up the Holy Spirit connection you do so well—it will be direly missed at Woods Chapel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sayeth Shawn. You’ve said “Yes” to God—you’re being obedient and faithfully trusting Him and it sounds like you’re ready. That’s cool–I wish I was. I’m not ready to enter the worship center and not see you there…I don’t like it when that happens…nope, not one bit. The good news is, God has a plan for each of us. He’s okay with me not liking this…it won’t change His plan, it will only change me. Priest, Pastor, Prophet, Phriend…we will miss you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I will be praying with you. Thank you for being all three to me. Thank you for following the Holy Spirit’s calling. In your listening and waiting He has and will do great things through you. Amen! Amen! Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shawn, I am a retired UMC pastor having served 16 years later in my life. The “calling” on my life so profoundly changed me and challenged me from within. Called to be a pastor meant I belonged to God first, carrying out God’s plan for humanity; to see and serve as Jesus did! Yes, that meant being cricified as God’s message of love is carried on through the three roles you so explictly clarrified.
    Never have I read so clear a message of our lives in service to Christ through our churches. Even in retirement, I often reflect on where I could have been a better pastor. Defining the sacrifical trinity of our remarkable calling that you have defined is so powerful and precise it pushes one to see with new eyes and hear with new ears.
    May I suggest your description of these three roles be published for all pastors; those just starting out, those weary in the profession, those retiring. Praise God and blessings to you for many years as a disciple filled with the Holy Spiritual leading others to the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, generosity, faithfulness and self-control.
    Pastor Mary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary,
      Thank you for your comments. I’m encouraged to know you found this post helpful. Please share with those you think may benefit from reading what’s here. (I have no idea what publishing any of this would look like)

      And may God continue to bless you as well!

      Shawn

      Like

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