Pastors Need Pastors

This summer I’ve needed to attend to a few additions to existing structures at the cottage. There’s nothing like a needed renovation to remind someone like me that there’s theory and then there’s practice; and that’s why I usually end up holding hammer or leveler for a family member or friend who kindly (…pityingly…) agrees to help often becoming project manager.  Pretty well everyone who’s tried their hand at expanding or creating better access for a living area knows that seldom do such projects “go smoothly”. It doesn’t take great powers of observation to see that those who have had success in such projects display theoretical knowledge along with applied skill and innovation combined with a healthy respect for one’s limitations. They have become practitioners because their knowledge is a product of theory plus experience.

As a recently retired pastor still active in different ministry opportunities, it’s become even clearer to me that I’m still called to be a practitioner (see previous entries). Like those in charge of tasks above-mentioned, I’ve needed the skill of applied wisdom…theory plus experience with a healthy respect for my strengths and limitations. The renovation project pastors are engaged in involves the lives of people! This has often felt to me like standing at the intersection of a job to do and the care of people called to do the job. The theoretical knowledge absolutely indispensable for this balancing act which I believe is unique to this call is a working knowledge of the written Word. But the task of the pastor also includes overseeing the healthy consumption in the pews (or equivalent) of same so it becomes food for life, not just information.

This is why I’ve become increasingly aware that such work cannot become a purely solo exercise and hence why our soul group continues to be crucial for me. There’s just too much at stake. It’s very easy to become so imbedded in the task of either the job to do or the care of those called to do it that one can forget the pastor is also part of the renovation. I’m a sheep, not only a shepherd! This where I need my brother practitioners who I have learned to love and trust help me sort out what’s to be applied where and when and, of course, to whom…sometimes I get to share deeper insight into God’s inexhaustible wisdom as it applies to another…more often it’s about what applies directly to me! All of this is priority shaping, I find.

Why should the actual work of pastor be different than any other practitioner? Yes, like most things in life, theoretical knowledge is not enough if it’s to survive the application test….let alone eventually to thrive in it.  But what I’m still learning is that my call as pastor doesn’t exempt me from being the product of good news, not just enabler of it. This is indeed good if not constantly sobering. The medicine of the Gospel which shines its healing beam on the Church and world also exposes areas of yet to be transformed darkness and brokenness in me. To work and serve well, with joy I might add ( …this really can be a lot of fun…), this practitioner needs wisdom applied personally in relationship with others likewise called.

Yes, simple but profound truth….pastors need pastors!!

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Shuffling the Deck

Not so long ago, I was at my home church having been away for awhile when I ran into a friend in ministry from another tradition. I expressed genuine delight at seeing this person with their family at ‘my’ church and voiced my assumption that they were visiting. “Oh”, they said, “we’ve been coming here for awhile now.” Mildly taken aback, I expressed even greater delight while stifling my surprise and my temporary embarrassment. Actually, I wanted to say, “Yes, of course you’re here now. How come I didn’t know this? I thought you belonged somewhere else.”

Please don’t misunderstand. I was truly pleased to discover that this couple had chosen to sojourn with us. They are gifted mature disciples of Jesus Christ who would not have made a decision like this without careful thought and prayerful discernment. My ‘mixed’ reaction probably had more to do with coming to terms with the reality of change experienced recently ‘in transition’ myself. I truly believe, in fact, that this family’s transition could be an example of God ‘shuffling the deck’ for his kingdom purposes.

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An Introvert in Community

I am a raging introvert. In a Myers-Briggs test, my introvert score was 98%. God wired me this way, and he also called me to be a pastor. This just proves that God has a sense of humour.

The Urban Monastery is about telling our adventures in community. It costs an introvert to be in community. My energy is best restored when I am alone. I feel drained when I am around people for too much time. As a pastor I am around people a lot. There are times and places where, if I don’t show up, I am missed – like Sunday Morning. Being with people is not optional. As a pastor I need to spend time, either leading, or discipling or planning and administrating. One of the gifts a pastor brings to people is the ministry of presence.

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A Bit of Humour to Kick Things Off

As we begin this journey, it seems fitting that we draw on some classical humour. Of course, the real intent of this blog is to share the collective experiences of three very different men, from three very different traditions. All of us have walked together over 15 years and have shared our lives, our loves, our frustrations, and our joys. We do spend time in a lot of restaurants, including bars and coffee shops, where we speak about our lives as ministers of the Gospel, the people we serve, and the families we love. Our times are always rich, and have proven the wisdom of sharing in the communion of saints. We hope you’ll enjoy journeying with us.

walk into a bar