I heard that phrase uttered the other day and scoffed at it under my breath. I neither took it to heart nor did I truly think about the implications of what a short proclamation such as that actually meant. The person saying it wouldn’t be on my short-list to hand out sage advice to the masses, yet the more I contemplated his snippet, the more profound I came to understand it.
Our church is going through the process of finding a lead pastor for our congregation. Never having had a personal hand in this before, I wasn’t really prepared for what happens during these kinds of transitions. As a kid I can remember the changing of pastors at my childhood church, but as a punk kid you don’t feel the complete impact of such a thing. As an adult, the reverberations are jarring and far from subtle.
Some people have left church over this change. Some people who left long before, have entertained coming back to church. Think about the dichotomy of those two previous sentences… Yet, through it all, aren’t we to be a family of believers? Isn’t my church family supposed to be capable of withstanding differences of opinion? As the pastors change over time, the church body remains. Now, I grant you that’s a gross generalization, but the idea juxtaposed within should have your mind whirling around like a top.
Simply put, pastoral transition is rough. And we as church family can make it rougher if we’re not darned careful. The idea our previous pastors were performers isn’t accurate and certainly not an apt description of how they carried themselves. However, when asking for what you want and hope to have in your new pastor, you better put some effort into it.
Me personally? I know I want sound doctrine. I want answers to questions, even when they aren’t answers. By that I mean, I want and need the truth. I’m not interested in the Joel Osteen, “If you love Jesus a little more and pray a little harder, you’re going to get that promotion at work,” prosperity Gospel nonsense. I want the pastor to give it to me straight, especially when it hurts to hear. The other important thing I need to put across? The idea that what I think I may want, isn’t probably what I need or deserve.
I may want this huggy, warm, and smiley preacher every day. But what I might need is the 4th grade teacher who has me lay my hands out on the desk, palms up, while I get rapped across the mitts with a ruler.
I don’t want a pastor who hides behind the curtain until it goes up for his Sunday service. I want him to be out there in the pews, taking a different spot each time among us. I don’t care if he can’t carry a tune in a bucket, I want hear him sing. If he’s to be one of us, let him be among us. I want him to lead people to worship with him, rather than just being in the same room.
I seek your prayers, as does that of our church body and leadership, in finding a pastor suitable for us all. May the Lord illuminate a path to such a man, and better yet we recognize it, and follow it.
Be salt and light my friends. I wish this for you all.