Monday, September 17, 2012

Avoid Becoming the Pastor you Swore You'd Never Be - Part IV

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Here is part four of this five part series on how to avoid becoming the pastor you swore you'd never become.  This week we look at being a prophet.  From p.24 in The Unofficial United Methodist Handbook for Pastors:

You are a prophet. ("Leading the people of God in obedience to mission in the world, to seek justice, peace, and freedom for all people...")  The best biblical understanding of 'prohet' is "one who speaks for another.'  Your prophetic task is to move yourself, your flock, and society into alignment with God's will and God's coming reign.
DON'T
  • Assume that you are a prophet just because you have been run out of four churches.  An effective prophet will choose her or his 'fights.'  A common error for beginning pastors is to see all issues as being of equal importance.  They are not.  (See Romans 14:1)
  • Worry too much about keeping people happy.  The word 'happy' does not appear in the examination at ordination.  'Faithful' is a better standard.
DO
  • Identify those persons in your community who are not present when your congregation gathers.  Ask: Why are they not here?  Would Jesus welcome them?  How do we show hospitality?
  • Remember the Wesleyan tradition of social holiness.  Help your flock attend to loving the neighbor who can be seen and then neighbor who cannot be seen.  The 'sacred worth' of persons is not defined by sexual orientation, national boundaries, economic conditions, or gender.

I think too often I hear people fall into the trap under the DON'T section.  They think being run out of church is a sign of good ministry as a prophet.  In actuality it good just be because they are an ass.  We are not called to be an ass but we are called to lead people towards holiness in personal and social ways.  I love how they advise people not to get caught up in 'happy' but concentrate on having people be 'faithful.'  I know I cannot keep people happy and that isn't the task of ministry.  The task is to have the flock be faithful.  That will take moments of being prophetic but also understanding who the people are and how to move them forward towards holiness.  Listening may be one of the biggest tools of a prophet but the least heard of.

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