Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to treat your Pastor

One of my teachers and mentors, Jim Hamilton charged a room of young preachers in Greek class with this old and anonymously written message for churches and pastors. As I was going through some old files I came across it and it is as potent to my heart today as it was seven years ago when I first heard it.

How to treat your pastor? Fling him into his office, then tear the "Office" sign from the door, and replace it with a sign that says, "Study." Take him off the mailing list. Lock him up with his books—get him all kinds of books—and his typewriter and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before texts and broken hearts and the flippant lives of a superficial flock and a holy God. Force him to be the one man in the community who knows about God. Throw him into the ring to box with God until he learns how short his arms are. Engage him to wrestle with God all the night through, and let him come out only when he's bruised and beaten into being a blessing.

Shut his mouth from forever spouting remarks and stop his tongue from forever tripping lightly over every non-essential. Require him to have something to say before he breaks the silence. Burn his eyes with weary study. Wreck his emotional poise with worry for the things of God. Make him exchange his pious stance for a humble walk with God and man. Make him spend and be spent for the glory of God. Rip out his telephone. Burn up his success sheets. Put water in his gas tank. Give him a Bible and tie him to the pulpit. Test him, quiz him, examine him. Humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine. Shame him for his good comprehension of finance, batting averages and political party issues. Laugh at his frustrated effort to play psychiatrist. Form a choir, raise a chant and haunt him night and day with, "Sir, we would know God."

When at long last he does assay the pulpit, ask him if he has a word from God. If he doesn't, then dismiss him. Tell him you can read the paper. You can digest the television commentary. You can think through the day's superficial problems and manage the weary drives of the community and bless the assorted baked potatoes and green beans better than he can. And when he does speak God's Word, listen. And when he's burned out finally by the flaming Word that coursed through him, consumed at last by the fiery grace blazing through him, and when he who was privileged to translate the truth of God to man and is finally himself translated from earth to heaven, bear him away gently. Blow a muted trumpet and lay him down softly. Place a two-edged sword on his coffin and raise a tune triumphant, for he was a brave soldier of the Word and ere he died he had become a spokesman for his God.

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