The vocation of pastor has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans.
If people don't know their pastor, it's easy to put the pastor on a pedestal and depersonalize him or her. It's also easy for pastors, who don't know their congregations, simply to classify congregants as saved or unsaved, involved or not involved, tithers or non-tithers.
I get asked, 'What do you miss most about being a pastor?' I think it's the intimacy, the incredible gift of intimacy. You go through death with somebody, with their families, and there's an intimacy that comes through that that is just incomparable.
Pastors need to know what's going on in the world and what has been going on for 4,000 years. We need a way to read Scripture which is imaginative, interpretive.
Pastors are highly susceptible to the sin of sloth.
I believe God takes the things in our lives - family, background, education - and uses them as part of his calling. It might not be to become a pastor. But I don't think God wastes anything.
Religion is a very scary thing, because a pastor is in a position of power. And if you use that power badly, you ruin people's lives, and you ruin your own life.
The most important thing a pastor does is stand in a pulpit every Sunday and say, 'Let us worship God.' If that ceases to be the primary thing I do in terms of my energy, my imagination, and the way I structure my life, then I no longer function as a pastor.
I think pastors are the worst listeners. We're so used to speaking, teaching, giving answers. We must learn to be quiet, quit being so verbal, learn to pay attention to what's going on, and listen.
The minute the church and pastors start saying what do people want and then giving it to them, we betray our calling. We're called to have people follow Jesus. We're called to have people learn how to forgive their enemies.
The role of the pastor is to embody the gospel. And of course to get it embodied, which you can only do with individuals, not in the abstract.
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