Pastor? Preacher? Spritual Director? Life Coach? which do I NEED to minister to me?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 11  Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13  This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT)

 1  Take me as your pattern, just as I take Christ for mine. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NJB)

 1  Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you. You have fellowship with the Spirit, and you have kindness and compassion for one another. 2  I urge you, then, to make me completely happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and being one in soul and mind. 3  Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. 4  And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. 5  The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: 6  He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. 7  Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. 8  He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death— his death on the cross.Philippians 2:1-8 (TEV)

It seems more and more advertising dollars are spent trying to convince me that I either should become a life coach, or that I need one.  A lot of master’s programs at Catholic and Protestant universities have M.A. and M. DIv programs in becoming a spiritual director.  Heck, one group is willing to provide me coaching, via videos and taped phone calls where I have no imput at all, but I can listen to them anytime I want.  I also have been inundated with books by preachers about ministry, and how to take my church from a failure to a success, and books about how to preach to my people so their lives turn completely around and they can live a good and proper life.

Lots of advice….

Now, don’t compelte read me out of context, there are those that are wise, and experienced coaches, some of whom I talk to and bounce ideas with on occaison.    But I’ve also talked to a coach in revitalization who was trying to get me to hire him as a coach, whose experience in churches under 1000 members was non-existent.  They developed their theories and their plan based on statistics and the works of others.

As I look at all these programs, and talk to some who director them, I am reminded of a ministry opportunity I once had, to teach and shepherd a group of young married couples. Only one problem, I was 23 years old and had just broken up with my fiance a few months before!. But hey, I could have purchased the latest book by Dobson, or Trent and Smalley and taught the material.

As I think about the ministry, and how we train our ministers (deacons) and pastors, I wonder what sort of message this sends them about how they should serve their people.  Do we want ministers who stand back and observe people and give advice that they haven’t quite experienced themselves?  Do we want them to turn to studies and books and “journeys” that are not unlike an old diagram with yes/no questions with tracks to take?  Or do we want someone who will be there, who may not have the answers but will continually point us to Christ’s presence in our lives, to His promises revealed in scripture, who assumes that God’s presence in our lives, is the final answer… and how that applies is something we work through together.

I think we need to get away from the cookie cutter approach, whether it is more traditional, or more contemporary, more cutting edge or more based in cautious stewardship of yesterday’s concepts.  We have to stop de-humanizing the relationship between pastor and people, and and humble ourselves and get down in the mud together, and see what God is doing. That’s not the way Chirst worked among those with whom He lived.  He got involved, He knew their pain, He took their burdens.. and He calls us to love each other in the same way.  Including being patient with those whom we serve.. He didn’t meet them in an office, he met them at tax tables, and by the waiting room at the ppol, on the road and where the boats gather… He met them in their life, and endured with them

Jesus Christ Crucifix

Jesus Christ Crucifix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe that’s the point about all this, that it isn’t just a title, but finding someone to work with who is willing to do what Christ did – to come to us in our brokenness, and minister healing to us.  Not just advice, not just a sermon series, not just rubrics and guidelines and 6 steps to that.  But someone who comes and serves, and cares, and brings healing and trains us to do the same to others.

May we train ministers and pastors and bishops and our laity – all who minister in Christ’s name.. to do so as Christ did..

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 November 13, 2013, in Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Okay, Dustin, I confess, I wasn’t going to read this. The title had me going there for awhile. But, by the time I got to the end, I had to smile. You didn’t disappoint, in fact you said exactly what I shared with my friend the other day. So keep up the good work, even if your titles are sometimes misleading. 😉 Love, Kath

    • Thanks Kath!

      There are days where I am tempted to want the bigger, shinier fancier church… with thousands upon thousands of adoring church members.

      Then I sit with someone who is dieing, or work with a couple who struggle with being married to sinners (since each of them are – just like all of us) or the person struggling to trust in God….

      Though I may not be good with titles, or be the best at the various aspects of ministry, there is something really incredibly special watching God work through my bumbling attempts to reveal to people that He is with them!

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