Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Reluctant "Pastor"

I remember going to a “Christian leader’s conference” shortly after I resigned from a paid position as a Youth Pastor. I resigned because I felt God was calling me to plant a church and I was at this conference to be “inspired”. I was with a friend who was also part of the new church plant. He knew one of the key guys at this conference and we ran into him in the common area between sessions.

My friend introduced us and we talked a little about what was going on with the new church. I remember the conference guy clearly asking me, “So, you’re the pastor of the new church?” I hesitated in my answer and he gave me a strange look, as if to say, you’re not a very fired up pastor.

The hesitation took me by surprise, but I knew why. I do believe God has gifted me to be a leader, I also believe He has called me to be a pastor. But not the typical pastor I’ve always experienced in my life, but more like the Ephesians 4 pastor. I want to equip people, not just talk at them. I want to share life with people; not just counsel them.

But there was another reason for my hesitation – I battle pride just about every day of my life. And too often the role of pastor is seen as the “power-seat” in the church. I just don’t agree with that. I look at Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. I think about His instruction to them not to “Lord over” people. Then I look in the mirror and I know I am capable of doing it all wrong. I can move a crowd by creating an emotional environment, picking my words well, and know just when to pause and when to get loud. But none of that is what pastor-ing is really all about. It’s not a show; it’s a position of service.

That encounter at the conference was about two years ago and my feelings have grown stronger and stronger. The body of Christ already as it’s Head – that’s Jesus position. My role as a pastor is simply to do life with people, to learn from them and to share what I’ve learned. But more important than the learning is the loving. Jesus boiled it down for all of us – love God with everything you are, and love the people around you as much as you love yourself.

At times, people will call me “Pastor Dave”, and while understand this is normal within church world, I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with it. So, am I a pastor? Yes, but that’s not my title, it’s my role within the Body. You, too, have a role within the Body. And It would be weird if your role was caring for orphans and I always referred to you as Orphan Helper so-and-so. I think when we label some (i.e., pastors) and not others, we create a division or hierarchy that I don’t see in the Bible.

My role is to help you find your role and give you ways to express it for the benefit of the Body (and in the world); and to help you understand that every role (including yours) is critical. So, you can just call me "Dave", and I’ll call you by your name and we’ll all work towards loving God and loving people – together!


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