Originally written for Shepherd of the Ridge Lutheran Church, apply these ideas to your local context.
Last night during Confirmation Class, our class was talking about Holy Baptism and sponsors, and I mentioned that I personally pray for my godsons every day. One of the students said, “That’s because you’re a pastor.”
I get that a lot.
In my later years of high school and early months of college, many people suggested to me that I should become a pastor. God was using them to call me to this vocation. But, like many of the Old Testament prophets, I resisted. I reasoned, “As a layman, I can tell many people about Jesus, and they’ll understand my sincerity. As a pastor, when I tell people about Jesus, they’ll say, ‘You’re just doing your job.'” Obviously, God eventually convinced me that I could do more good and help more people through full-time ministry, and I stopped running away from His call. I’ve never regretted it.
That said, I was right. That comment I got last night wasn’t isolated. Many of the things I say and teach get filtered through my collar. When I meet people outside the church, I try to let them get to know me as a person before they find out I’m a pastor, not because I’m trying to trick them, but because I don’t want their preconceived notions and stereotypes to draw an inaccurate picture of me, or, more importantly, of Jesus and the real impact He’s had on my life.
When I preach, teach, and care for people, I do so because of the love that has been shown to me. On those days when I don’t live up to my calling, I find myself asking why God chose sinful humans instead of perfect angels to lead His people. Clearly, imperfect people can do the job better, because the message is all about forgiveness, and we can tell firsthand about God’s forgiveness of our own sin.
So why am I a pastor? Because God loves me. I became a pastor, because I firmly believe in His love, and I get excited about the opportunity to share this good news with others. The prospect of doing so all day, every day was just too great an offer to pass up.
That said, most of the people reading this are not pastors. You’ve received God’s love and been given the gift of faith, but He has called you to serve the community through other vocations. You have an opportunity that I don’t: you can share God’s love through word and deed with others without people thinking you have an ulterior motive. Like a satisfied customer compared to a salesman, your actions will look much more sincere. Even if a salesman firmly believes in his product, he’s still “just doing his job.” But as one who has freely received God’s forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice on your behalf, God can reach many people through you that I will never even meet.
May the Lord of the harvest equip you with all you need to bring His love to all whom He’s placed in your life.