I’ve been thinking about this for a while and the time has come to do it. I want to talk to you about your pastor. Your minister. That man or woman who stands in the pulpit every Sunday and does their best to lead a meaningful worship service.
I want to talk to you about the life of a minister. The parts your own pastor/minister won’t talk about.
And for those who may be asking right now, “Well what does he know about it?” that’s a fair question. I know about it first hand because for 15 years I served in pulpits in North Carolina and Georgia. I’m an ordained minister, graduated in the top 5% of my class at Emory University, and received my Master of Divinity degree from there. I have served in churches with members numbering from 35 to 1,500. I have been both an associate minister and the senior minister, so yes, I have a little experience.
Do I have an axe to grind?
I just know some things the average layperson doesn’t know, and maybe it’s time they did. Maybe it’s time people knew what their pastor did when nobody was looking…and why they did what they did when everybody was looking. And for these discussions, I’m assuming you have one of those ministers who truly feels called into the ministry and is trying his/her best to be the person they were called to be.
I also know there is the other kind of minister. The one who goes into the ministry because it provides them with a regular check and a house (for those who have parsonages). There are also the ones who are ineffective and keep getting shuffled around in the system, passed on from one unlucky congregation to another. Both cases happen more often than you might realize, but these are not what we’ll be discussing. For the purpose of our discussions I am talking about the local pastor who is trying to do what God called him/her to do.
What I can tell you at this point is that serving as a minister is not a job or a career. Being an accountant is a job. Being the manager at Wal-Mart is a job. Managing a restaurant is a job. Working at the help desk for an IT company is a job. And they are all good jobs. Jobs that can become careers. They are good solid ways to make a living and anyone who does any of them (or any other job) should be proud if they are giving a good days work for a good days pay.
But being a minister is something more. It is a calling. A way of life. It sets you apart from everyone else you will ever meet because that is the nature of answering the call to ministry. A minister is called to a ministry of Word, Sacrament, Order, and Service. In other words, they are responsible for preaching, teaching, administering the sacraments, providing pastoral guidance, and leading the congregation under their care in service to the world (or at the very least, the community around them).
A minister is a minister twenty-four hours a day. seven days a week. When a person answers the call to ministry, they are doing more than saying they will go to school and eventually take a church. That’s just the beginning.
Tomorrow…Answering the Call.