What’s So Great About Being a Pastor?
Hello Church Family,
I want you to know that I’ve been very specific in my prayers for you this week: I have repeatedly asked God to give you great joy in Him, the kind of “fullness of life” that Jesus says He came to make possible (John 10:10).
Several years ago a man asked me, “What’s so great about being a pastor?” Let me give you some context. This man was inquiring because he was re-considering his calling. As a (remarkably gifted) professor in a seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he had often wondered, and was, in fact, wondering again if he should pursue ministry in a local church as a vocational pastor. I was happy to offer my feedback. And just yesterday, I happened to stumble across the answer I gave him. I thought I would share it with you:
A friend of mine recently asked a twentysomething pastor the same question you’ve posed: What’s so great about being a pastor? To which the young man said, “Definitely the flexibility of my schedule.” What?!? That’s the GREATEST thing? You can have flexibility driving an ice cream truck (not that there’s anything wrong with that … and in your hometown you’ve only got three potential wage-earning months)! But anyway …
For me personally the difference (between life in the trenches and in the ivory tower; I’m using inflammatory language in jest), I think, lies in the depth (and length) of the relationships pastors are able to establish with their people. I’ve attended six universities (I should have more than a ThM at this point!) but I may only talk to two or three of my professors semi-regularly. The window of opportunity for influence that professors enjoy, generally speaking, seems to be brief. But as a pastor, I get the privilege (and burden, sometimes) of building into lives for years, even decades. (Plus, I get the unique joy of being invited into the most important times of a person’s life: graduation, marriage, childbirth, promotions, terminations, anniversaries and even the death of a loved one.)
So, while I’ve flirted with going to the classroom (and had the pleasant occasion to teach classes and modules in various countries), I still prefer the daily grind of preaching and ministering to people in the milieu, so to speak. True life-change usually happens over extended time (unless God has more expeditious plans in mind). Relationships are the same way; they take time. As one of my mentors says to me on occasion: “You can’t build a tree, you have to grow it.” And it’s in the relationships grown over time that God offers the richest blessings.
Years after I proffered that response, I feel precisely the same way—in fact even more strongly about the value of slow-built and long-standing relationships. And I want you to know how much delight I take in sharing with you not only the gospel, but my life (and the lives of those in my family), as we grow in Christ and strive to glorify and enjoy God together.
For your joy,