Monday, February 27, 2023

Thank You to Pastors Who Chaplained Me

La Jolla, California

Anyone want to be a pastor? If so, begin by reading Eugene Peterson's The Pastor. It will knock the "mega" right out of you.

I've been in many mega-meetings, and heard inspiring preaching and teaching. These speakers, in my life, have come and gone. If I've been influenced or affected,  it's more by their ideas and, of course, God speaking through them, to me. 

Far more significant in my life are the handful of pastors who flesh-and-blood-and-spirit flat-out shepherded me. If you are reading this now, you know who you are. You met with me, counseled me, prayed for me, prayed with me, one-on-one mentored me, put up with me, saw something in me, invested in me, performed my wedding, dialogued with me, argued with me, reasoned with me, entrusted me with responsibility, taught me, spoke into my life, had time for me, allowed me to call you at any time, interrupted your life for me, had me often in your home, guided me, influenced me, and loved me.

To the few of you: you are the only real pastors that I've known.

I thank God for you, and that you chaplained me.

See Mark Galli's excellent "Why We Need More 'Chaplains' and Fewer Leaders." I loved it. Here are some highlights.

  • "The chaplain prays for people in distress, administers sacraments to those in need, leads worship for those desperate for God."
  • The pastor-as-chaplain is at the beck and call of those who are hurting for God. He's not his own man. She is not her own woman.
  • You won't mistake a pastor-chaplain for an entrepreneurial leader or a catalyst for growth. "No, the chaplain is unmistakably a servant."
  • Our secular, capitalistic culture has seduced pastors into wanting to be mega-leaders and entrepreneurs. This is the pastor as successful business leader.
  • Contrary to the successful business leader, Our Lord, Jesus, the Original Pastor, spent time and energy on healing hurting souls.
  • At one point in Pastor Jesus's ministry he actually lost disciples. (See John 6:66)
  • In Mark 10:42-45 we read: "Jesus called them to him and said to them, 'You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles like to be seen as "leaders," "entrepreneurs," "catalysts for growth," and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many'." (With slight paraphrase)
  • So where in the world did we get the idea of "pastor" as anything but a "curer of souls?"
  • Pastoral soul-healing has many dimensions.
  • A pastor is "first and foremost a chaplain - [which] is fundamentally about the healing of souls—helping men and women, boys and girls, to become right with God, and therefore, right with others."