John MacArthur said some craziness and I had a few thoughts.
Today I watched portions of John MacArthur and well...
What is a pastor?
Pastor someone that you see on a Sunday, or on a Saturday, or on a Wednesday, or whatever day you happen to go and participate in your worship service of choice. The pastor is that person that stands up there and preaches, right?
At least, that's what I think most people think of when they think of pastor—that’s what you and I are told.
But for me, that's not going to cut it.
Let’s look at it at the word itself. Fancy word time—etymology (or the history of a word and how and why it works the way it does. Here is the etymology for pastor...
late 14c. (mid-13c. as a surname), "shepherd," also "spiritual guide, shepherd of souls," from Old French pastor, pastur "herdsman, shepherd" (12c.), from Latin pastorem (nominative pastor) "shepherd," from pastus, past participle of pascere "to lead to pasture, set to grazing, cause to eat," from PIE root *pa- "to feed; tend, guard, protect." The spiritual sense was in Church Latin (e.g. Gregory's "Cura Pastoralis"). The verb in the Christian sense is from 1872.
This, I think falls short however.
You see “Pastor” is not just a noun. It's a verb and it's an adjective. It's an action-it’s so much more.
And I'm sorry, if that offends you; if it offends what you’ve been told. Pastor is not some man, and only a man, that is gifted to preach and teach and shepherd.
So what is it? It is a person that gives advice, guidance, leadership, and service in a way that truly helps lead people see the divine.
A Pastor is not a woman or a man-gender is not a requirement for a pastorate.
A pastor is one that helps us hold bigger intentionality helping us move past binaries about God; all the while expanding our relationships with each other as a body and with God.
It is one that comes alongside people and loves as well as lifts them up all the while in counsel with them and God.
Getting back to the concept of a shepherd....
A healthy pastor, upon seeing those entrusted to them eating the field down to nothing, realizes how unhealthy this can be and lovingly leads to new pastures and new fields to graze in. Often this path requires many pastors and intentionality.
How does someone do that though? Look out at a field and determine if it’s still a safe place to be, if safe is even the answer to a question that needs to be asked? It will require the intentional allowing by we the congregation to give space to pastors to turn off, to not answer the phone, to be “not clergy” for a season. Back to the field.
Pastor's are allowed to be prophetic, to counsel, live, cry with, grieve with, laugh with, and yes at times even fail people-maybe even be allowed to be honest about their doubts.
You see Pastor for me is not a noun. Yes, it's a vocation. And yes, it's a job, but is also a call to living. I mean think about it. So many things are and so many, so many people are so much bigger than their job. I think of teachers. They're loving and self giving and self sacrifices, often to their own detriment, doing what they can to ensure that those that they are trying to instruct have the tools necessary to learn.
I think of nurses that self sacrificially pour out their emotions to those that are literally broken and not just to the patients but also with the families as well as the fellow staff. They too are in community with people, and are more than their vocation. I could do this for every single job, we are more than our vocation.
And pastor is often a beautiful expression of what the love of God is, what Christ's love is, not someone that constantly yells at you (I’m looking at you MacArthur). Not someone that constantly berates you and tells you that you're not allowed to be something or do something because of who you are. Be that gender, sexual preferences, or race-it's not somebody that does that.
It's someone that intentionally make sure again, that you have fresh grass to eat that you're well fed that you know that you're loved by the one that made the field. And the one that makes the grass, and the one that made you. And the one that made the pastor.