I was having dinner with a pastor-friend and he asked, “So how? Being a pastor?”
When I stepped out into fulltime ministry on 1 Jan 2004, being a pastor was not on my radar screen at all. On my mind was only theological studies at TCA College, coupled with the excitement of serving God wherever He would send me. In the days that followed, doors opened for me to preach and teach in various churches. Without trying at all, relying wholly on God’s grace and favour, I found myself launched into an itinerant ministry. In this capacity, I gained exposure and insight into different congregations and worship settings.
Then, on Saturday 18 October 2008, I was commissioned as a pastor of Covenant Vision Christian Church (a new community birthed out of Covenant Vision Ministry). Sunday services began soon after on 1 Nov 2008. Over the past 7 months, I discovered that the key difference between being an invited preacher and a pastor is that one can preach it and leave it whilst the other has to preach it and live it.
As a guest speaker, my job is done when the service or church camp is over. I have preached it, and I now leave it to the pastors, leaders, elders and people of the church to decide what they want to do with the Word. If I preached badly or they don’t like my style, I don’t get invited back. If it’s theologically or doctrinally controversial (not that it shoud be … just ‘if’), the pastor gets to clean up the mess I make. If it’s a tough word, they can choose to ignore the message. If they have been blessed, I get complimented and encouraged … and possibly invited to speak again. My task is to preach the Word of God accurately and without compromise and the rest is left to the church.
Ah, but as a pastor … it is not as straightforward. My job is not done when the benediction is pronounced. I wish it was, but it isn’t! I may have preached it but I now have an added role to help my congregation live it even as I first strive to live it myself. If I preach faith, then my desire is to see the congregation live faith. If I preach obedience, then I must help my people live a life of obedience. Jesus didn’t just teach His disciples and sent them away with a “go figure” attitude. Not at all! Instead, He walked with them, led them, corrected them and guided them. He preached it and He lived it, that they too might live as He did.
And that’s where the challenge is … it’s a journey filled with ups and downs, laughter and tears, joys and disappointments. How nice it is to be an external consultant, to point out the weak points and to list out the to-do’s. And if the company accepts the report and diagnosis, but chooses not to do anything about it, the consultant still gets paid! But as a pastor …?
“So how? Being a pastor?” I looked at my pastor-friend, smiled, and said, “Like that, lor.”