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Bro. Danny's Blog

Random Thoughts From A Former Pastor's Perspective

Let Me Tell You About My Jesus And Some Of His People

Twenty three years ago, the Lord called a young, untested, would-be pastor to lead a small, struggling, congregation in an equally small semi-rural town in Arkansas. Because they didn’t know any better, the small congregation accepted the young man as undershepherd and made it their mission to turn this new ‘ministry project’ into a person God could eventually use in His kingdom-building process.

The Lord led both undershepherd and congregation on many adventures during those twenty-three years. Often, the young man would stumble in implementing a ministry or misread the Spirit’s instruction on a certain matter but each time the congregation would patiently help the young man find his way. In time the young man and the congregation began to work as one body, rightly dividing the Word of the Lord and making a great impact on the small semi-rural town.

Together, with Jesus leading the way, the young man and the congregation saw their ministry expand. People began to come from outside the small semi-rural town. Interestingly, as the Lord brought more and more people into the congregation, the young man became older and wider (yes ‘wider’ not ‘wiser’). Apparently this was something God could work with as the congregation continued to grow and impact her town and the surrounding area in a very positive way.

A new church was started, The Lord provided more worship and education space, and a new parsonage replaced the old to accommodate the addition of another child to the young man’s family. It began to look as though God just might let the man (formerly known as ‘the young, slim, man’) remain with his perfect congregation until time to retire or He sent His Son to take them all home.

But, as is often the case, the Lord had other plans. He called the man (formerly known as ‘the young, slim, man’) to another ministry. The man and his lovely bride, while still loving the congregation and happy where they were, knew the time had come to make room for the congregation’s next young man. The man knew that what Jesus had done in those amazing twenty three years was only the beginning of His plans for that special group of believers.

The man and his bride were very much at peace with the move into the new ministry. The only hesitancy came when the bride thought of the home she had occupied for almost 17 years. “I just thought we would be more ‘stable’ at this point in our life.” she said. “Yet here we are in our mid-fifties and we don’t even own a house…” The man (formerly known as ‘the young, slim, man’) reminded the love of his youth that Jesus has always more than met their needs and He would most certainly do so again.

So the congregation was told of the coming move and the man asked them to consider the possibility of he and his bride purchasing the home they had occupied for so many years. But the congregation had other ideas. After much prayer, thought, and discussion, the congregation gave that beloved home to the man (formerly known as ‘the young, slim, man’) and his lovely bride. The man has still not found words to adequately express his love and appreciation to the congregation.

Now let me tell you how Jesus showed Himself to the man and His lovely bride through this extraordinary gift.

Two days after the gift was given, his lovely bride came to the man (formerly known as ‘the young, slim, man’) and said, “God spoke to me today.”

“Really?”, the man said. “What did He say?”

The lovely bride paused and with tears in her eyes said, “He reminded me that if you had not answered His call to ministry and left all we had to go to seminary, we would have paid off our house this year.”

The man (formerly known as ‘the young, slim, man’) wept…

All that the man had ‘given up’ to follow Jesus and serve the congregation had been kept by Jesus in a way the man and his bride never suspected. And at just the perfect time, He returned it all through the generosity of the congregation.

Career Or Call?

“I do not believe God would have me leave my family and friends, spend 3 years in seminary and then call me to a church running less than 500!”

Those words, which were personally overheard at one of my conservative denomination’s seminaries, still haunt me almost twenty-two years later.  That the six or seven others gathered around that table whole-heartedly agreed only made/makes it worse.  That some, if not most, of those same people are leading or on staff at some church today is a thought I do not wish to contemplate.

That shocking statement is evidence that even twenty-plus years ago, the concept of ‘The Call’ was beginning to disappear.  Even then, one could sense that becoming a minister was less about being clearly and undeniably beckoned and more about a natural progression from youth group, to Christian college to seminary where “I will eventually discern what career path God is leading me into”.

Today we hear young men say, “WE have been lead to pastor God’s Church”.  These are generally the same young men who proudly announce that WE are pregnant.  Really?

I will be the first to say that my wife is the main reason the congregation has tolerated me for so long. I will also be the first to say that she is a gift from God who knew, before the foundation of the world, I would need the perfect pastor’s wife.  That being said, my perfect pastor’s wife will be the first to say she was not called to pastor the church.  Her spiritual gift, like every Christian’s spiritual gift, is something special and powerful and essential to building the Church but the gift is not the Call.

As I understand it, (Remember, my thoughts are not inerrant nor infallible!) the Call is not conditional. One is called as an individual to an individual, often, sacrificial ministry.

For instance, the Call was for Amos to leave his orchards and preach to a people who did not want to hear. It was a Call for Isaiah to leave the comforts of the king’s court and live the life of a prophet (tradition says even to martyrdom!)  Peter was to leave his nets and trust God for his sustenance.  To sometimes have his family accompany him and at other times not.  It was a Call for John to leave the life of the ‘well-connected’, preach the Word wherever God chose to send him, and endure any hardship the Lord chose to send his way for the sake of the Gospel.  The Call was for Saul to change his name, leave the lime-light and family affluence, and engage in bi-vocational ministry for the foreseeable future.

Today, the Call is apparently issued to a group of people whose ministry is to educate those whose ministries have become irrelevant, teach the saved (and the lost!) how to worship, break the trap of the old traditions, and point out the out of touch. It is the call to make every church a suburban church, and reveal the anointing that only comes when one preaches from a stool, with an iPad, while wearing shorts and backwards facing ball caps… especially if the audience is middle-aged, blue-collar, rural leaning… you know, like Jesus’ earthly family was…

There, As Patrick Wayne said in the movie, McClintock, “I said what I said, and I’ll stand by it to the death”.

The Pastor

Have you ever wondered what role the bible actually  prescribe for the pastor?  Is he to play the under-shepherd with complete charge over the sheep?  Is he to be the equivalent of the CEO for the organization known as the church? Or perhaps he is to be the servant-leader so often held up as the example but so seldom described in any definitive way.

Some desire a strong pastor to lead the church aggressively against the gates of Hell.  Others prefer a humble pastor who is willing to lead the church wherever she decides she should go.   Still others want a pastor with a vision for the future while others want to enlighten the pastor as to what that vision should be.  And everyone wants a pastor who always tells people what they need to hear but never offends in the process.

Most especially people want a pastor like Jesus… Meek (except when He’s throwing people out of the Temple or calling them ‘vipers’ and such) Undemanding (well, except for that ‘take up your cross’ thing) Always willing to compromise for the sake of unity (except He never did!).

Well…

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