Saturday, May 3, 2008

What is pastoring?

A worthy question indeed. And one that cannot be answered in a single blog post, or I suspect, a single lifetime. Pastoring is many things, but right now, sitting here at my kitchen table, it feels like love.

As a pastor, you find yourself loving your designated congregation. Not a gushy, worldly love, but the love of God himself flowing through you. I can only describe it as a family-style love. I feel fatherly towards my assigned congregation. (I can see how Catholics are tempted to call their priests "father", despite the biblical admonishment not to call any except God by that term.) I feel parental towards the saints under my ministry (with the exception of the young ladies, who I also feel big brotherly towards ... so, be warned, all you single guys, because I do have a shotgun!)

It's an incredible feeling to have that much love flowing through you. I don't know if it's describable in ways that anyone who wasn't a pastor would understand, but I'll try anyway. The closest non-pastoral thing that I can use to describe it is the moment when my first child was placed in my arms and I felt my life and heart enlarge to allow more love to fill my life and flow to this precious bundle in my arms. For the record, I bawled my eyes out and didn't care. Interestingly, I bawled just exactly the same way when the Lord confirmed my calling into the ministry. I guess I should have seen the connection then.

The power of love is strong. By way of example, let me give you this little vignette. I had talked to one of our congregation earlier in the week and given some very strong advice and as my Friday evening went by I felt more and more like I needed to call and invite him to breakfast the next day. I eventually called him and we spoke for a while and he accepted my invitation. This morning, we had breakfast at my local Country Kitchen restaurant and he asked if Brother SoAndSo had put me up to it. I told him that no one had said anything, but that my heart was heavy with worry for him all evening and I felt that I had to call and arrange to get together with him. The supernatural power of God's love is powerful beyond what many of us ever suspect. Some days it still catches me by surprise!

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