I don’t think that many EN readers are avid consumers of the Guardian newspaper.
Still, you may have heard of ‘The Secret Footballer’ column in that paper. For the last few seasons an anonymous Premiership footballer has chronicled the ups and downs of the professional game. For us readers, it’s the inside story on a world we might think we know. But as we read it, we discover that we’ve only been guessing all the while.
What’s it like to be a pastor?
In my experience, committed Christians have little understanding of what their pastor does. Sure, pastors preach, lead meetings, visit the sick, chase down the evidently lukewarm, do ‘ministry stuff’; but beyond that it’s all a bit of a mystery. No one ever dreams of asking us just what it was we did last week. Have you ever asked your pastor how he spends his time, and what it’s like doing his job? I thought not.
That’s why I’m writing this column. I’m a UK pastor and I love the work of the ministry. I’m working in a mixed congregation of ordinary people. By ‘ordinary’ I suppose I mean those who are loveable, and those who are, to me at least, less loveable. We’re not a huge church, and we’re not a handful. We’re not failing too awfully, and we’re not having an earth-shattering impact on our area. Not yet, anyway.
Beyond that, I won’t tell you who I am. That’s because I want to use the column to write about my ministry. A ministry that’s earthed in the real lives of people, and that’s shaped by God’s grace in my own situation. If you know me or my church, then it’s hard for me to write. Because you don’t know me (and I’ll be careful to cover my tracks), I can write with greater freedom, and so I can get to the heart of some of the issues in church life and ministry.
More than anything, I want to show you what it’s like being a pastor. I’m not writing with axes to grind, moans to indulge, or agendas to promote. I’ll be writing this column about pastoral ministry for two reasons:
A joyful life
First, I want you to see that my life as a pastor is a really joyful one. Despite appearances, we pastors are largely a very grateful and glad breed of men. Oh I know, pastors can be miserable and pastoral ministry brings miseries and agonies. I’ve been there and I’m sure I’ll be there again. But the vast majority of pastors I know love their calling and those they serve. I want you to see why, for your encouragement. Ministry is the partnership of leaders and people. Who wants to be partnering with a professional misery? I want to show you where my joy is as a pastor.
A sacrificial life
Secondly, I want you to see that ministry is a deeply sacrificial work. If I’m doing it properly, my work is deeply costly to me. That’s true of almost any job of course, but ministry has particular demands. The man who stands up on Sunday may be ministering out of a heart filled with tears. You may be the cause of his tears. What does it mean to carry your cross as pastor? As we see the cost for our leaders, we can learn to support them.
So, part diary, part musings, part confessional. I look forward to sharing some ministry inside out with you. Next month: church hand grenades and other terror tactics from the pews.
Pastor Anonymous is in full-time pastoral ministry somewhere in the UK!
This article was first published in the January 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
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