Are pastors professional leaders, or servants? ( Evangelical Catholic XIV – plus some Luther)

 All who have given up home or brothers and sisters or father and mother or children or land for me will be given a hundred times as much. They will also have eternal life. 30  But many who are now first will be last, and many who are last will be first.    Matthew 19:29-30 (CEV)

If service, in our serving. In Greek it reads διακονίαν, ἐν τῃ̂ διακονίᾳ, that is, “in ministering.” “Ministers” are all those who serve in ecclesiastical offices, such as the priest, the deacon, the subdeacon, and all who have to do with sacred rites except the administration of the Word of God, and also those who assist a teacher, as the apostle often speaks of his helpers.

Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contain...

Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contains the incipit Liber generationis of the Gospel of Matthew. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(1)

Has this man reached a level of spiritual maturity in which his competence as a pastor and his security as a man and a Christian disciple express themselves humbly? Does he see his ministry as one of empowering in others the gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed on those in his pastoral charge? Does he treat those who help him implement his pastoral ministry as collaborators in the work of the Gospel, or as indentured servants? Does he foster talent, not being threatened by it?  (2)

Most pastors aren’t called to give up homes or family, in the USA even few are called to give up their lives.  But there is something that continues to grow, that goes against everything I learned in my early training, and more and more, I am finding,  in the historic church.

My Bible College drummed it into us that those in ministry are servants.  Whether they are going to be Children’s Ministers, Youth Ministers, Senior/Preaching pastors, or Missionaries – each are called to serve… each are called to lay behind our personal preferences, our wants, and yeah – even sometimes our needs, in order to reveal to people the love and mercy of Christ, and to show them how to love and be merciful to those around them.   This isn’t easy… it takes realizing that we aren’t superstars, that we are as broken, and the chief of all sinners, that God may show our people what can be done in our lives..

That’s different than the idea of professional clergy, it’s different from the times in history where the pastors and priests were looked up to as “Herr Pastor” or  the idea of the “high priest”.  (I have to admit a certain level of pleasure watching Pope Francis take this attitude on in the Catholic Church, where others have simply tolerated it – and more than a smidgen of jealousy as I consider our leaders…)

Luther reminded us that we are servants – not just those who have inherited the apostolic office, but all those who assist as helpers as well.  Weigel dreams of a priesthood as well – where we see our co-workers in ministry as our collaborators, not as our servants.  We have been called to serve them, to train them, to see them develop.   Last week, one of the men I get to assist in growing up in the ministry preached another awesome sermon.  Even more, he preached it in a place few others could go, to people that most “professionals” would discount, would see the doors closed, because it wasn’t enough.

there is something in his work, that I wish every professional pastor could learn, could observe, could emulate.  That they too could take on such a group of guys and serve them – work with them, patiently, lovingly, helping them see God, helping them see God working in their brokenness, helping them see that relationship develop…. and transform those that they work with…completely.  Then as they transform, watching them care for others.

Weigel dreams of this for his church body, he loyally suggests this is the track it is taking (and did so prior to Francis being elected.)  Luther knew it – his co-workers literally faced persecution and death – and rose up from nothingness…

I pray this for the churches and pastors I work with as well….

That we would serve… content to follow the example of Christ… and to seriously look at passages like Phil. 2:1-11, Romans 12:1-8, and 1 Corinthians 12-13……

And may we, in ways sometimes seen, and often not seen…on earth.. praise and give glory to God our Father, who sees all, as we obey His commands.

(1)  Luther, M. Luther’s Works, Vol. 25 : Lectures on Romans. Ed. J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann. Luther’s Works. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1972.

(2)  Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (pp. 123-124). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God’s saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on June 18, 2013, in Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: