Shepherding as a Contemplative Pastor

As I have said numerous times, “I simply feel made to be a pastor.” I love being a pastor. I love Jesus. I love people. I love what Jesus is dedicated to doing in his people and I am thrilled that he has called me to be an under-shepherd, a pastor, in that work.

When I was in High School and realized God had made me to be a pastor I had a lot of high dreams, high expectations. Little old ladies would tell me things like, “God is going to do such amazing things through you.” Tell that to a junior in High School and his heart isn’t going to receive that in a healthy way. I, like Eugune Peterson, have always been very competitive. Very few things feel better than winning. Selfish ambition, consumeristic church culture, and a competitive nature really is a dangerous combination.

In light of that, the quote below from The Pastor by Eugene Peterson resonates deeply with me:

Was it realistic to think I could develop from a competitive pastor to something maybe more like a contemplative pastor- a pastor who was able to be with people without having an agenda for them, a pastor who was able to accept people just as they were and guide them gently and patiently into a mature life in Christ but not get in the way, let the Holy Spirit do the guiding?

Out of all the roles of a pastor: shepherd, preacher and teacher, leader, visionary, prophet, administrator, etc. the role of “shepherd” seems to be the one resonates most deeply with me. While I am very good and not so good at some of those other roles “shepherd” is the one I love the most. It could be a simple reason like, “God made me that way.” but I think it comes from something deeper.

Before I became a Christian I always loved being around people. Now, thanks to the gospel, I just love people. I belief this is the “shepherd” coming out in me. I, with a gospel-induced instinct, love people earnestly. This is a primary reason why I love the quote above.

I believe the heart of my pastoral calling and identity is to be a pastor that patiently, gently shepherds the Father’s sheep into His presence as He transforms them through His Spirit from one degree of glory to another into the image of His Son.

That is what I have to keep in mind to not approach ministry with selfish ambition, fall into the trap of a consumeristic church culture, and allow my competitive nature to use people in the name of “ministry.”

Surely, it is good for my own heart and my church to be a contemplative pastor, not a competitive one.

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