“What do I do?” Given the long list of expectations often placed on the office of pastor, one can find it difficult to know where exactly to jump in. Add the seven-day cycle of many pastoral responsibilities, and you’ll find it difficult to be intentional rather than reactionary to every day’s demands.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at four questions that can provide a path for the pastor. First, we considered the “where” of my assignment–properly understanding what the place I’m in actually is and is not. Then, we reviewed the “who” by scanning the room to understand the people I’ve been called to serve and those still beyond our current reach.
Question three takes the “who” question personally and asks “why” am I here? (I wanted to emphasize the “I” but it’s only one letter, is already always capitalized when standing alone, and is so skinny that the bold feature barely shows). Why, out of all of God’s servants, did He place me in this place?
Now congregations have a lifecycle that typically begin before your arrival and hopefully continue long after you’ve polished off the farewell cake. And through that journey, many different and differently-gifted individuals will sit in the chair you now occupy. Some will be evangelistic in their nature–people magnets that Christ will use to expand the reach of the congregation. Others will be more pastoral, nourishing the flock to greater strength and healthy reproduction. Still others bring a prophetic bent needed when good fruit has been overrun with the weeds we’ve neglected to root out. Others unpack their medical bag to salve the hurts that just won’t heal and the heartaches that have stolen our strength to chase the future. There are about as many different seasons and possible “whys” for a pastor as there are pastors to engage them.
So “why” are you here? Now, I’m not suggesting that you can know that on your first day, but the sooner you acknowledge that yours is a unique purpose in place and time, the sooner you can begin seeking that purpose from your Master. Most of us want to be the guy/gal that leads the church to greatness. We want our stories to be the stuff that others find compelling. After all, we want to write books and speak at conferences just like everyone else. Ambition isn’t automatically choked out by a clerical collar.
When I let Christ help me reflect on who I am, my passions, my abilities, my previous fruitfulness, a picture of my purpose can begin to emerge. You see, I refuse to believe that He messed up when it inserted me into this place and time. He brought me to this place so that I can bring what He has placed in me. I may have been the congregation’s seventh choice, but I’m His first and any other pastor right here right now would be the Master’s Plan B. So, why me?
Now, here’s where things get tricky. When trying to figure out what we bring to the table, too many of us get snared into identifying what we don’t. “Well, I’m not that guy…” Hey, there’s a lot of guys and you’re not a lot of ’em, but the question we need to answer is which guy are you ’cause that’s the one the Master thinks we need. And, by the way, He’s really smart.
I won’t suggest that you’ll find these kind of answers quickly or easily. But they are what you must search for. Knowing where you are and who you’re with can help you too. Somehow those first two questions feed our understanding of what might be needed in this moment. And that’s where you come in–to lead us to what we need to chase or face. There may be still waters to sip and a gorgeous meadow for making giggling grass angels, or there may be wolves to wrestle and a treacherous cliff to navigate. Both are important, as are the almost unlimited number of other scenarios that could be in immediate view. “Why” are you here? It’s the only question that can prepare us for the final of these four…one we’ll tackle next time.