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Friday, September 24, 2010

Are you sure you want to be a Pastor?

Today will be the last of five intense days of teaching aspiring ministers the art of Christian Leadership and Preaching. This group is quite diverse in age, ethnicity, and perspective. Yet, we share a common love for Christ and the Church. As I think about some of our dialogue from class sessions and meals together, I can't help but wonder if I may have scared some of them away from ministry.

In the Church Leadership class I communicated the following:
-"Leading the people of God to align with the purposes of God is hard, laborious, and gut-wrenching."
-"If you step up to lead people through the wilderness of status quo and into the promised land of missional vitality you will take hits that hurt."
-"When you pastor a church you can't punch out at 5:00 and go home forgetting that Joe ran off for an affair with his co-worker, leaving his wife Jane and their 5 kids, or that 16 year old Brian is addicted to heroine or that 40 year old Sally is being eaten alive by cancer. Though we realize that Christ is the ultimate shepherd and that we are limited in ways he is not, we carry the burdens of the people we serve."

In the Preaching class I communicated:
-"Using words to try and impact lives is like trying to put out a thousand acre forrest fire with a garden hose (Will Willimon), yet we keep dragging ourselves up before the people hoping that the power of God will grace us and grip them with words that lead them into a new reality, a new kingdom."
-"Once we deliver our sermon on Sunday, we experience a few moments of sweet release that comes from delivering our homiletic baby. Then Monday comes and we wrestle with the demons that tempt us to doubt whether or not we really said what God wanted us to say or whether it was even worth saying anything at all since nobody seems to be listening. What is more, in the midst of these battles with the demons we call the 'Monday morning blues' we've got to prepare for another sermon all over again since Sunday is only a few days away."

Yeh, I think I may have scared a few of these aspiring ministers, unless, of course, they are called by God to this vocation. You see, if you're called by God it doesn't matter how challenging, heart-breaking, exhausting, and frustrating pastoral ministry may be. We do it simply out of loving obedience to Him.

In short, pastoring is not for the weak and wimpy. I would also add that, while pastoring is a rough line of work, the joys and delights far outweigh the pains and disappointments. When God uses your pastoral leadership to inch his people closer to the promised land of missional vitality, you will experience the kind of joy that makes pastoring worthwhile. When you sense that God is using the words he gave you to proclaim hope to individuals and renewal to a community, there is deep satisfaction.

Pastoring the church of Jesus Christ is a daunting, scary line of work. But if you're called by God to this vocation, go for it! When you know you're in the place God has called you, doing what he has called you to do, and making a difference while doing it, you'll be glad you said "yes" to God's call to Pastor.


Anton Topilnyckyj said...

As we joked, you should not be in recruitment.

The truth was the theme of the week; the truth in the message to be preached and the truth in the calling. As you gracefully reminded us - we were not called to fame, or riches, or limited involvement, but to faithfulness. In Luke (9:23 NIV) Jesus told us,” If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”.

Nothing easy about that calling.

Lenny Luchetti said...

Yeh, one has to be crazy to say yes to the pastoral calling...either crazy or courageous! But, in the estimation of many, the benefits make the challenges so worthwhile.

esallo said...

I believe you are right in saying that pastoring the church is a scary and daunting calling. But I thank you for doing it well and obeying God's calling when you were at SWC. I know He sure used your leadership to bring me into a more vital and courageous walk with Him. And I know He will continue to use you to train future Pastors to do the same in the churches they are called too.

Lenny Luchetti said...

Thanks for your kind words. SWC was a pleasure to pastor. We got to a place where the joys of ministry far exceeded the challenges. Give me love to todd and the girls.