Some of My Friends are not Pastors
One day my children saw me talking to a friend they had never met. They inquired who he was and I said nonchalantly, “Oh, just a friend”. My daughter then asked what church he pastored. “Oh, he’s not a pastor,” I responded.
She gasped, “You have friends who aren’t pastors”?
Please feel free to file this story under “you might be a pastor’s kid if…”. I do have friends who are not pastors. It is also true that I have many pastor friends. I’m guessing doctors have doctor friends and truck drivers have trucker friends, too.
One of my pastor friends has a church. Let me tell you that whomever you think it is, it’s not that one. But my friend and I have significantly different philosophies of ministry. Some might suggest we are polar opposites! We live in different cities with different demographics. To be honest, I’m not sure my friend even believers women should be pastors. He has never told me this, but his philosophy of ministry suggests as much.
Recently, another pastor friend asked me about my story. More specifically, the story of my church. Who are we? How would I describe her to someone? Woah! What is our story???
Jesus tells a story in Matthew’s Gospel (20:1-16). He begins by comparing the kingdom of heaven to a landowner who went to hire day workers for his vineyard. The landowner went out early and hired a few. He took a coffee break around 9 AM and hired a few more. Later in the day, he hired more day laborers at noon and 3 PM. Finally, at 5 PM, when it was close to quitting time, he saw some others standing around. No one had hired them, so he did. They were picked last.
Often I see people who are waiting and hungry for spiritual things, but they have been overlooked. They haven’t been chosen. There are different reasons why they seem to have been overlooked. Sometimes by society. Often by the Church. But God sees them. He is the One Who Sees.
It has been years since God first called me to be a pastor. I thought He was crazy. I believed there were others He should choose before me. I didn’t think I deserved to be chosen. I should be picked last. But, when God called, I raised my hand and said, “Here I am”.
It never occurred to me to whom God would send me. I didn’t think it was optional. Do we really have an opinion of where or to whom He sends us? We say yes, and let Him lead. It turns out God wanted to send me to the ones who were still waiting. The ones not chosen. The ones overlooked. He sent me to the atheists, agnostics, the unchurched, and the ones wounded by the Church.
Here’s what you need to know: it takes patience to pastor a church like this. It takes patience because you have to earn trust with those who have been overlooked. And some days I am impatient.
All of this got me thinking about my pastor friend and his church. The one who is my polar opposite. Did God send him to the others? The ones chosen first. Does God love the ones chosen first more? Does He love them less? No, Jesus tells us He loves them the same and they even received the same reward. This is because God is generous.
Could it be that the way we measure “success” in the Church is skewed? My friend and I are polar opposites. Our philosophy of ministry, our communities, and even the people God has called us to reach. Is it fair to measure me by his standard or him by mine? I wonder if we’ve stirred up needless competition with imperfect metrics.
Here is what I do know: the first and the last need a loving Savior. So here I am and there he is and we are both raising our hands saying, “Yes, please send me”.