I have never been a huge fan of a major distinction between clergy and laity, pastor and parishioner, shepherd and sheep. There are certainly responsibilities I have by virtue of my occupation. And I certainly believe that I will give a certain type of higher accounting for my calling before God as a teacher and leader among His flock. There is a difference, but it is primarily in degrees. I do very few different things than what an average Christian is called to do. All of us should pray. All of us should minister to the needs of others. All of us should give of ourselves in love. All of us should read and study our Bibles. And it is quite likely that all of us have some platform for teaching others what we have learned about God from His Word. I just do these things in a more focused way.
But this lack of distinction and pull toward a genuine humility in me has the potential to result in some generalized miscommunication between me and ReCAST Church. And I think it beneficial to clear that up here through a blog about five things I think I could be missing in my communication with ReCAST.
1. Not Everyone Knows How to Study the Word
I recently became aware of this by an admission from one who has attended my church for quite some time, that she has no clue how to begin to study the Bible for herself. I say it often from up front, that we all should be studying the Bible for ourselves to understand what God is communicating about himself. But as a pastor, who has been in love with the Word of God since my youth, I can take for granted that people understand the sweeping instruction to “just study the Bible”. I am growing in my conviction that I want more of my ministry to be focused on teaching people how to study the Bible. I would love to lead anyone who has a desire, into a better understanding of how to study the Bible for themselves.
2. Prayer Is Best Studied By Doing It
As strange as it is to state this outright, I am payed to pray! If I spent the whole day on Tuesday in fervent prayer for my congregation and community, it would be time well spent, and I don’t imagine anyone at my church would call it a waste of time (at least not out loud!). But prayer is something God has been growing in my ministry, personally, and I am realizing that we have very few opportunities for the congregation to pray together. So when I talk about prayer from up front, I am not confident that everyone has the same understanding of what that means. And further, when I pray up front, I am not confident that it is very helpful in educating people regarding the vastness of prayers offered throughout the week. There are quick prayers said in the drive to a meeting. There are extended times of prayer in the morning. I write down prayers in a prayer journal most days. There are times of staff prayer, and times of prayer walks on Sunday morning. There are some amazing times of prayer together with the elders when we have felt the Lord draw near to us. Prayer is to be a lifestyle for a pastor, but also for all who follow Jesus.
3. Evangelism is Tough For Me Too
We all want to be liked. And it is a fair assumption that mentioning Jesus at every turn is going to be a potential hurdle to being the cool guy in the office. Of course I don’t have the same pressures in my work context that most people have. Talking about Jesus in the church office is pretty natural.
It seems like a sermon passage will often lead to the conclusion/application that we should be sharing the great grace and mercy of God to any and all who will listen. And just the fact that I say it so often, could give the impression that I am nailing this and am a paragon of evangelistic fervor. But often the text is preaching at me too! I want to share my faith more. I want to have eyes to see the opportunities that God is placing in front of me. So we should pray for each other, that God would give us both opportunities and boldness to take them.
4. I Am Not Too Busy
God has been working into my heart and soul the conviction to move from a competitive pastor to a contemplative pastor. When I first became a church-planter, there was an adrenaline rush that came with starting something new. The risk was real. The excitement about seeing new things happen every week and new people showing up, was a rush.
And it could be said, that during times in those early days, I was TOO busy. The addition of more people hasn’t changed that. And if I had remained in a frenetic state of mind and continued to lack prioritization of my time, I would certainly still be TOO busy. But God has been leading me to reorder my role into three main silos of ministry. I am called to prayer, I am called to study the Word, and I am called to engage in spiritual direction. And with this last priority, comes an intentional effort to be more available to people at ReCAST for intentional meetings to provide spiritual direction. The shift is happening in me, but the shift must also happen in the church. If I am going to continue to grow in the area of spiritual direction, I want my people to know I am available and not too busy!
5. I Need a Sabbath and a Pastor too!
For years now I have been ALMOST effectively taking a day off on Friday every week, since Sunday is actually the day of my greatest responsibility and my wife says Saturday ends up being at least half of a work day, too. But a day off is not the same as a Sabbath. I am working to try to make each Friday a more intentional day for me to stop telling others to listen to God and to instead just listen to Him myself. I am trying to make it a less hurried day. A more contemplative day. I have not told people often, but I will not respond on Friday’s unless it is an emergency. I am working to have a day of rest where I can take a rest from ministering and to honestly give people a rest from me.
Closely related to my need for a Sabbath is my need for a Pastor. I am currently working through the desire to find a spiritual director in my life who can help me to ask the tougher questions about my life together with God. I need someone asking me questions about my own soul. I am not sure who that will be, and I would love to have people pray with me for the right person and the right fit on this.
Pastor’s have a calling that differs from other church-goers by degree but not by content. And I share this blog to help clarify that I am cut from the same cloth as everyone. I recognize the exemplary nature of the role I have been called to, and at times it makes me tremble with the added responsibility and stricter judgment.
But it is also such a joy and privilege to walk together with people. I will be near first in the judgment, but I have also been privileged with a front row seat to the “watch God plant a church” show. It has been glorious. I love ReCAST Church and I love her Lord.