Tag Archives: pastoral ministry

Hope for Moody Pastors (Mark 3:3-6)

One reason I resisted being a “pastor” for so long was all the stereotypes I had in my head for what pastors are supposed to be like. My image always looked something like Mr. Rogers in a sweater and khakis. Warm, personable, emotionally steady, gentle and never, EVER moody.

I don’t know where I picked up that image of the pastor, but it certainly wasn’t in the Bible where God’s leaders are all over the map with their varying personalities and wild mood swings.

Moses’ temper tantrum (striking the rock) cost him the Promised Land. Jeremiah was depressed. Elijah withdrew and almost quit ministry. Peter was impulsive and often put his foot in his mouth. James and John had a violent streak earning them the nickname “Sons of Thunder.” John the Baptist was loud and abrasive, maybe wore a camel hair sweater but definitely not Mr. Rogers’ khakis. Paul was prickly and at times butted heads with others.

Ok, even admitting this diversity of characters, I at least thought I could count on Jesus to be the perfect picture of the unflappable, zen-like pastor who was always calm and collected. Or, could I?

Today I noticed and appreciated the little episode in Mark 3:3-6 where Jesus going about his ministry….and we see him breaking my Mr. Rogers-like pastoral mold. For fellow church leaders, its refreshing to see that even Jesus faced some very irritating ministry moments and difficult people. (I have a perfect church, but I’ve heard other pastors have difficult people.)

Let’s take a quick look and I’ll offer some off-the-cuff leadership insights at first glance. Continue reading Hope for Moody Pastors (Mark 3:3-6)

Pastor 13 – The Cost of Vocational Ministry

Today, Will Willimon, in his book “Pastor” quotes his own teacher’s words on the pastorate toward the end of his career training clergy. James E. Dittes speaks of “ministry as grief work”:

To be a minister is to know the most searing grief and abandonment, daily and profoundly. To be a minister is to take as partners in solemn covenant those who are sure to renege. To be a minister is to commit, unavoidably, energy and passion, self and soul, to a people, to a vision of who they are born to be, to their readiness to share and live into that vision. To be a minister is to take that all-out, prodigal commitment to a people who cannot possibly sustain it. . . . The minister is called by their need, by their fundamental inability to be who they are born to be, hence by their fundamental inability to share and live into that vision in which the minister invests all. To be a minister, then, as God knows, is to be forsaken regularly and utterly, by those on whose partnership one most relies for identity, meaning, and selfhood.

p. 290

Willimon adds his own powerful reflection on the pastor’s true crown, referencing the Roman Catholic rite of Holy Orders where the soon-to-be priest is made to lay prostrate on the floor of the church, face down and arms out-stretched:

“Jesus’ own earthly ministry ended upon a cross. As Paul reminds us, God’s power in Christ is “made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). From what I have experienced as a pastor, the challenge is not to find some means of sure success, as the world measures these matters, but rather to fail in the right way, for the right reasons.

Gradually to lost heart out of sheer boredom at the triviality of the church is to fail for the wrong reason. To be crushed because we put too much confidence in the approval of people or the praise of the world is failure not worth having. But to have failed in the manner of Jesus, on the cross, to lie prostrate on the floor, arms outstreched in cruciform, to have confronted the world with the good news of Christ only to have the world fling it back in our face — this is the cross that is the pastor’s crown” (290).

No wonder they speak of this life as a vocation — as something God “calls” people to.  No one in their right mind would ever voluntarily sign up for this life of lonely grief work filled with daily grief and abandonment unless God.  It’s a high calling. Please pray for your pastor regularly, friends.

Pastor 2 – More than a Manager

From William Willimon’s definitive book on ordained ministry entitled Pastor.

“The history of pastoral care in America is a history of the adoption of inappropriate models of leadership by the clergy. This stands as a warning to us of the perils of uncritical adoption of secular techniques and models of leadership…..”

“The pastor as manager can be an all too appealing image for pastors who lack the creativity and courage to do more than simply maintain the status quo of the church — to keep the machinery oiled and functioning rather than pushing the church to ask larger, more difficult questions about its purpose and faithfulness. Pastors are called to lead, not simply to manage. Many of us serve churches that have become dysfunctional, unfaithful, and boring. Having lost a clear sense of our mission, we diffuse ourselves in inconsequential busyness. Lacking a sense of the essential, we do the merely important. Any pastor who feels no discontent with the church’s unfaithfulness, who is too content with inherited forms fo the church, is not just being a bad manager, but has made the theological mistake of surrendering the joyful adventure of pastoral ministry for the theologically dubious office of ecclesiastical bureaucrat.”

p. 63