What’s a Pastor to do?

I’ve explored through this blog the role of the Pastor from time to time because I know that what I experienced is not what it is. But then know what something isn’t doesn’t always lead to an understanding of what it is!

Magrey deVega author of the article “The Pastor as Docent” on the Out of Ur blog, describes the search to define the role of the pastor;

A friend told me that Eugene Peterson’s Under the Unpredictable Plant should be required reading for every pastor who has served for at least five years. That was how long it had been since my ordination. I picked up a copy.

Peterson claims that there are two common types of unhealthy clergy. The first is the messiah. Messiahs seek out wounded, broken people, to make them healthy again. It is a noble task, except for its motivation: messiahs need to feel needed. They consider healed people to be numbers, accumulated to suggest pastoral effectiveness.

Then there are managers, who seek not the unhealthy but the healthy: talented, faithful, and prepared people. Managers plug them in, finding the right places for them to serve in an ever-expanding congregational machine. The bigger the church gets, the better managers feel effective and useful. Once again, people become numbers.

The author goes on to explain that the answer was found at the Louvre in the tour guide (docent) giving a beautiful picture of how tour guides illuminated the artists work, but never overshadowed them, or stole their limelight. Sometimes they would assist in the unfolding, other times were silent, so patrons could explore and learn and experience the beauty of the art and engage with the artist on their own terms. It was a wonderful picture of what a pastor could be. Worth a read.

I can definitely relate to Peterson’s example of the Manager. I’ve experienced that, and I was a really good one, until I burned out. Now, my idea of a pastor also follows the symbolic, but it may be slightly more agricultural. Mine is the traffic policeman. You know, the guy in the white gloves at a busy intersection who makes sure everything works, and flows and is safe and conducive to travel. The pastor doesn’t make the traffic happen. He just negotiates the flow. He doesn’t provide momentum, just directs it. He doesn’t dictate the direction any of the travelers should go, but just helps them on their way. But both pictures – the docent, and the cop, work fine for me.


One Response

  1. Makes a lot more sense to me!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: