Notes to Pastors
from Pastor Dave Hart
PASTOR is a very special word to me, full of images of tender care and nurturing. It is a word that connotes warm relationships and heartfelt feelings. There is nothing plastic or insensitive about the Pastor. He is a people person, balanced in mind, heart, will, and touching others. Because he cares, we can trust‑and even hope‑that we can become a little more like the Good Shepherd ourselves.
There are many Godly people in the Kingdom, but not all of them are Pastors. Many have fine qualities to admire and emulate. Some have such consistent discipline and faith that we feel aware (and often ashamed) of our own spiritual poverty when we are in their presence. But they are not Pastors.
There are those who are focused on the Holiness of God. Too few Christians are truly overwhelmed with the vast Holiness of God ‑ His awesome power and His terrible purity. Fewer still desire to seek and know those qualities in Him. We are busy with our own puny lives, and if the truth be known, we almost always value our own comfort more than we value His Holiness. There are men and women in the Kingdom who honestly desire to see His Holiness (and hope to become more holy) more than anything else in the world. But these people are not Pastors. They may be monks. They may be mystics. They may have wisdom beyond their years. They may be truly righteous in their affairs. But they are not Pastors.
There are those who are consumed by the Word. They hunger to study and lift every nuance of every proposition and preposition in the Book. They seek to understand the universal verities and the microscopic details that make His Kingdom true. They wrestle with ways to integrate all of this knowledge into systems that make sense and bring order to a chaotic world. But these people are not Pastors. They may be scholars. They may be theologians. They may even be Pharisees. But they are not Pastors.
There are great Preachers and Teachers. They are able to speak the Truth in ways that people can grasp. They are masters at motivating the masses. They are elegant in expressing emotion. They are found on the great stages of the world. But they are not Pastors. They may be powerful prophets. They may be prolific Pulpit pounders. They may even be on TV. They may only be pretenders. But they are not Pastors.
There are great Managers. They construct great plans to accomplish great deeds for the Kingdom. They know how to get things done. Prolific producers, they often lead others to accomplish more than they ever dreamed possible. But they are not Pastors. They may have monuments to their memory. They may be a pillar of progress. They may be the symbol of structure. But they are not Pastors.
Pastors are not alien to any of these qualities. But they are not absorbed by them. The one who is focused on Holiness often leaves humanity behind. They may become too heavenly-minded to be any earthly good. They are often perceived as untouchable, unreachable, un-relatable. For the Pastor, holiness is not an escape. He seeks holiness for the strength it brings him to heal an unholy world. He seeks God's character to find the courage to complete his calling. He looks for Holiness because it's the source of Love when his own love is used up.
Pastors can be scholars. They know the Word. They know what it says, and even more, they know what it means. But scholarship is often an escape, as well. Words and ideas are safer than people and feelings. Ideas can always be manipulated and managed until they suit us. People cannot. Jesus did not die for the truth. He was the Truth. He died for people. Scholars sometimes forget this. Pastors do not.
Pastors should be able to preach and teach. They have every desire to feed their flock with holy meat, life‑giving bread, and refreshing water. But pastors do not get lost in the power of the pulpit. They do not find their validation in their authority or their effectiveness to move the masses. They do not find their esteem in their eloquence, nor do they guarantee salvation in their sermons. Pastors are living sermons. They know the gospel is best communicated with working hands, aching hearts, and a caring presence.
Pastors should manage their flock. There are things that need to be done. There is order and peace and progress to be made. But Pastors do not confuse being efficient with being effective. People remain more important than programs. Service to God is not slavery to structure. Too often, management becomes a fortress to protect the church. And while nothing evil may get in, too often, nothing healing gets out. Pastors value freedom more than safety. They prefer the open field and the flowing stream. They would rather risk being vulnerable in the open, than suffer stagnation behind sealed walls. Pastors would rather move, and make mistakes, than be bound to a perfect system.
The Pastor is a shepherd. Above all, he seeks to be like the Great Shepherd in every way. He wants more than the robes of righteousness, the depths of discernment, the gift of eloquence, or the mastery of management. He seeks the mind of Christ, the heart of Christ, the character of Christ. He wants to offer Grace and Freedom and Healing as fully as it was offered. He wants to love as God loved ‑ deeply, completely, sacrificially. Not for reward in this world or the next. Not for the glory of men or of angels. Our joy is to be like Him. Our meat is to do His work. Our service is in expressing our gratefulness. Our joy is to help others fall in love with Him. There is no greater expression of faith than to live as a Pastor.
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