Monday, July 18, 2011

Pastoring the Human Condition, pt. 3

a continuing series

The first month after I became pastor of my present church (I have now been here 12 years) I attempted to meet with many of the members in order to gain an understanding of the mental and emotional temperature of the people, therefore gaining a sense of the church climate.

One particular visit still stands out to me. At breakfast with one of our senior men, after recounting to me an absolutely horrific experience with a pastor from many years before -- where the trust with the family was ruthlessly violated -- this man said to me: 
At the time his words knocked me back a bit on my heels, but I’ve thought quite a lot about that statement over the past 12 years, and I have become profoundly grateful for his comment because it continues to offer me a punch-in-the-gut portion of humility. 

St. Peter writes: 
Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:10 NRS)

Once you were not a people, but now you are GOD’s people.” This idea is key; GOD's purpose is to create a people after his own heart, a people for his own possession. 

Therefore, we serve the Christ as we serve GOD’s people. It is important for pastors to remember that we are not the story here; the Christ and the discipleship community is the story. 

Said another way, we are not the raisons d'ĂȘtre of the church; that place is reserved for the Christ’s and his relationship of redemption and love with his people. This is especially important for us to remember because many of us command center stage at the altar, which if we are not careful allows our egos to be fed with our own importance.

In a few short years, more quickly than I care to think, my church will hear a different voice in proclamation and prayer and at the altar. And just as quickly I will become a distant memory -- old “what's-his-name.” 

This is as it should be. 

Considering this allows me to have the humility to remember that this story is not about me at all; it is about Christ and the discipleship community which must profoundly display his call for Kingdom living.