Thus, Paul’s personal presence and teaching authority were weighty for sure—not due to his own superior wisdom or human capabilities, but by virtue of his claim to carry around in his body and ministry the indwelling presence, power and message of Christ by the Spirit.
In this section of my thesis, I touch a hot stove, hinting that part and parcel to the wisdom tradition of Jesus and Paul and most teachers through the ages is the acknowledgement that God gives to the church certain individuals with a special calling and training to be sages and wise experts in the spiritual life. This rubs many Americans the wrong way.
Michael Wilkins introduces the rabbinic concept of shimmush which means “attending upon and coming under the personal influence of the teacher and learning from his deportment. “But shimmush itself was a study of Torah,” Wilkins continues, “because the rabbi’s life was to be an embodiment of Torah.”
My thesis flows out of the sobering realization that sermon-centric pastoral ministry is inadequate to the task of bandaging hearts, healing wounds, and forming souls at the deeper levels. Dynamic preaching may grow a church, but alone it will not grow disciples.
I often feel like I am treading water in a sea of strong and savvy senior pastors, watching them stand proudly at the helm of their mighty cruise ships, while I barely keep afloat while clinging desperately to a piece of driftwood—ancient driftwood that may contain the secret to our true pastoral calling.