Pastor of the People or Pastor of Christ’s?

controltowerLeadership Journal interviewed Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline (1.5 million copies). LJ asked Foster, “Dallas Willard once told you, ‘You need to decide if you are the minister of the people or a minister of Christ.’ What’s the difference?”

“Dallas knew that I was being pulled in all kinds of directions because of people’s expectation for a pastor. If I’m a minister of the people, then I’m controlled by what the people think and feel. If I’m the minister of Christ, then he is the one who calls the shots, and then I serve the people. Be a minister of Christ, then your work among the people finds its proper place.” (Leadership Journal, Summer, 2011)

When I fly I feel the pilot is serving me by taking me where I want to go. Yet, when he announces to us passengers that there’s a slight delay in departure because the tower says there’s seven planes ahead of us for take-off, I’m not tempted to try and talk him out of waiting. He wouldn’t listen to me anyway. It’s in my best interest, the best interest of everyone, that the pilot listens to the tower and not to the passengers.

I’m to remember, and it’s often difficult, that I’m to please Christ first, not the people in my church; by serving Christ I best serve His people. As I’m pilot to the people, Christ is my tower.

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Pastoral Qualifications?

pastoralgracesbookI recently concluded the book Pastoral Graces by Lee Eclov.  A great book for pastors to read! Here’s another excerpt…

“So far as I can tell, God did not single any of us [pastors] out for this work because He liked our resumes or found us in a talent search.  I suspect He chose us because, ever since creation, God finds special creative delight in making something from nothing, ex nihilo.” (loc. 207-213)

The Cost (and Benefits) of Discipleship

aaaarthk copyI often make up my own “posters” from my photographs, as I’ve done here. Feel free to copy/save and print up as a small poster for your church or for personal use.

Grace to Pastor

pastoralgracesbookI recently concluded the book Pastoral Graces by Lee Eclov.  A great book for pastors to read!  I’ll occasionally be sharing some excerpts with you, and hope to write a review.

“Since shepherding is a God-given assignment, it is too hard for us. How many times does a pastor think, They never taught us this in seminary? But God gives grace indiscriminately. Years ago I memorized 2 Corinthians 9:8. I have it framed on my wall. ‘And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.’” (loc 131)

God’s Word — Professional Use vs Private Use

BibleOpen“That’ll preach” I’m tempted to think when I’ve gained some fresh insight from a Biblical text. Therein lies the danger of preachers reading their Bibles; we can come to see scripture primarily as a tool for carrying out the task of preaching. Yes, it’s that, the crucial tool we use in preaching, but I regularly have to remind myself it’s to be so much more.

When my primary motivation for opening up the Bible is to find a message to deliver to the people then I’m using it professionally and not personally. I have a need to go first to the Bible as a person, not as a parson. The Bible must speak to me before I can expect God to use me as an instrument through which His Word can speak to His people.

I find it helpful to have a separate time and place to read God’s Word from when I study it for sermon preparation. For me, this means opening up God’s Word early in the morning and at home, away from my office and the commentaries.

I also have to approach God’s Word differently. It requires me to read it devotionally. The ancients called this lectio divina. My reading should have a personally directed prayer in the background, “Lord, what would you have me see, understand, and apply to my life from this Word of Yours?”

Perhaps this personal, devotional approach as over against an in-depth study is like the two different ways you can come to know a frog. You can dissect a dead frog in a biology lab, learning about all it’s inner parts, or you can observe a living frog on a lily pad, discovering and appreciating what a frog’s life is like.

I’m not putting down a scholarly and thoughtful study of God’s Word. We proclaimers of the Holy Scriptures need this discipline as a regular part of our preparation to preach. What I am suggesting is that we first need to read God’s Word for ourselves.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you differentiate your private and public use of God’s Word?