Hello Baysiders! Hope all is well in your souls. The Fall season is always a good time to consider the wonderful blessings God did during the summer and motivate us to trust him more as we move into the Holiday season.
In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, I want to talk about pastors. The job of a pastor is a really tough one and it is not for everyone. God has to call someone to take up the role. I can tell you from my career experiences, pastoring is the hardest. Some days I’m like, “why did you call me to do this?” Yet it is the most rewarding, fun, and exciting job. I LOVE BEING A PASTOR. I am so honored and humbled God chose me for such a task. Being that it carries a lot of responsibility, dealing with people’s souls and deep vulnerable aspects of a person, a pastor needs to be good at his or her job. But what qualifies as good? Did you know the pastor is the number one person judged at church. Everyone has an opinion on the job. Don’t pity me, it just comes with the territory. But that begs the question, what makes a good pastor? There are numerous opinions on what a good pastor is and should do. Many people think a pastor should be the face and brand of the church. Lots of believers think a good pastor is someone who runs the church like a CEO, making executive decisions and only does sermons. Others think a pastor should be a member’s best friend and always available for every need. Some dangerously and incorrectly think a pastor should be a politician and work the church as a democracy. Few actually define a pastor based on the Bible standards.
What makes a pastor good is if the character and leadership is mirroring that of Jesus’ shepherding. When we go to scripture, we see Jesus being a pastor in the good standard way we should uphold for any local minister we are under. Unfortunately, many Christians judge a pastor based on cooperate and social-media type standards like: number of people brought in, building renovation, donation increase, marketing influence, entertainment driven, shallow consumerism and making members (customers) feel comfortable. All these are terrible ways to measure a pastor with. Why? Because Jesus doesn’t care about those things in the gospels and what we find is him pastoring in ways that are counter-cultural with how we modern pastors do ministry. Jesus actually didn’t care about the numbers as he only had twelve committed members and by the end of his time on earth, one betrayed him, another one denied him and the rest scattered. Jesus was not interested in large crowds and big followings as he intentionally did things that turned people away. He didn’t see people as customers to appease and he didn’t serve shallow food for people’s souls. Never did Jesus count the donation box to determine if his pastoring was fruitful. He didn’t use his fame to bring in more influence as he regularly worked in the shadows, telling the people he served, to tell no one how he helped them. Jesus was not in it for his own glory. Yet today’s pastors we see an overdose of me-centered pastoring. The good news is Jesus is our true shepherd. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” When our earthly pastors fail us, Jesus does not. Ultimately we follow Jesus, our true and better pastor. We can and should still honor the pastors God has given us. We should appreciate them and tell them thank you. Not just in the month of October but all the time because they are on the front lines in the spiritual dark war taking most of the hits. They too need encouragement. It’s not because they need their ego stroked but they are human like us all who get banged up, bruised, misunderstood, make mistakes, get it wrong, and get hurt. The church is to uphold the pastor as he or she upholds the church.
So let’s see a pastor through the eyes of how Jesus pastors. Let’s judge pastors based on Jesus’ shepherding skills. When we do so we will have a correct Biblical lens to asses a pastor to uphold and honor them and also keep them accountable when error occurs. We need pastors to actually pastor like Jesus does. This is, what I believe, is the biggest problem with the church in America. Pastor’s don’t pastor. They do everything else but sheep rearing in the church. Why are there fake, bad, lukewarm, Biblically illiterate Christians? One main reason is because there are shallow, bad, lazy, non-convicted pastors.
The church can survive pastors who aren’t celebrities, podcasters, entrepreneurs, cultural influencers, or change agents. But the church can’t survive if pastors don’t pastor. This is gonna sound crazy, hear me out for a minute, but what if the real qualifications for pastors are proven character, priestly care, courage to denounce social injustices, meekness, discernment to resist partisanship, and devotion to God’s word and prayer. What if pastoring is not about having a social media presence or managerial ability to build and maintain sprawling campuses or church planting like a Silicon Valley start up? What if there are many at church who are first will be last and those last in the prayer email who will be first? What if getting invited to preach at big crowds is not what God is looking for but the invitation is to humbly wash feet? What if being famous for Jesus is actually idolatry and working in the shadows is actual glory? What if brainstorming with your church staff over what entertainment and fun activists to do on Easter is not the co-laboring Paul was referring to? What if having a large network and creating a brand for yourself are attempts to store up treasure here on earth? What if preaching isn’t about a pastor’s comedy hour or a platform to express his personality but for exhorting God’s people? What if Instagram and Twitter followers are mere crumbs to the feast that is stored up for those who denied themselves of attention? What if being successful is really about being faithful to the one lost sheep? What if your name wasn’t famous as a pastor but through your ministry others found Jesus’ name? What if mini church, not mega church, is a more biblically accurate description of God’s kingdom? What if attendees are not the same as disciples? What if a dynamic praise team with talented and fashionable singers are unimportant and God desires a broken and contrite heart for acceptable worship? What if never writing a book, speaking at a conference, making it on the radio or having that certified blue check mark in your profile are things Christ will not judge you on? What if being a pastor is satisfactory and other labels, prefixes, adjectives, or isms to your calling is you being soul thirsty for other beverages besides the living water? What if it’s actually the invisible pastor and seemingly insignificant local small church who are doing the really important eternal work? What if the church must again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant communities that live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world?
Let’s make pastors pastor again!
Pastor Aaron (:^)
Grace and peace