Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pastors - Love and Shepherd Your People

Lake Erie sunrise in Monroe

Pastors: Be not ticked off at the people in your church. Remember that you are a fellow sinner along with all of them.

Be not surprised at their fallings and failings. Because...  look into your own heart. We're all screw-ups rescued by grace.

Eugene Peterson nails this when he writes:

"The happy result of a theological understanding of people as sinners is that the pastor is saved from continual surprise that they are in fact sinners. It enables us to heed Bonhoeffer's admonition: "A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men."" (Eugene H. Peterson. The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction. Kindle Locations 1070-1073)

If you are angry with your people something has gone wrong inside of you. You're not their pastor so as to function as their accuser. They already have an accuser and don't need another one coming at them day and night.

Peterson writes:

"An understanding of people as sinners enables a pastoral ministry to function without anger. Accumulated resentment (a constant threat to pastors) is dissolved when unreal - that is, untheological - presuppositions are abandoned. If people are sinners then pastors can concentrate on talking about God's action in Jesus Christ instead of sitting around lamenting how bad the people are. We already know they can't make it. We already have accepted their depravity. We didn't engage to be pastor to relax in their care or entrust ourselves to their saintly ways." (Ib., Kindle Locations 1060-1063)

Our approach should be this: I know better than anyone that I need Jesus and his grace. Where there is sin, grace is to abound. Tell your fellow sinners about your personal experience with Jesus and his grace. With your fellow failing people let the grace of God abound.