I've been thinking a lot lately about how no one really knows what it means to be pastoral anymore, including some pastors. Based off of conversations I, as well as some of my colleagues, have been having lately, it would seem that the assumption of some laity is that being "pastoral" is equated to giving them what they want. Even when we can't. Even when it isn't the best thing for the entire body. And that is hard. Because many pastors, including myself, want to give people what they want, even if we know the most pastoral thing we could do is not cave into peoples preferences and demands.
Hence the dilemma. What is being pastoral? I think many of us go through life currently with blinders similar to what they put on horses in a parade. We can see what is in front of us and we want it no matter what. But to be a pastor is to see the whole picture, or at least as much of the picture, as we can. We have to think about how our decisions and actions will effect not just one person, but the entire flock. We have to think about how what we do today could influence not just the church here and now, but the church in the future. Being a pastor also means that we are accountable to more than just our local congregations, which is important, but to our denominations, and most importantly, to God.
I'm finding that more often than I would like, being pastoral means saying "no". Saying "no" so that the pastor coming after me will be blessed. Saying "no" because in the scheme of the whole picture saying "yes" isn't very responsible. And saying "no" because sometimes what is being asked is simply not feasible or won't bless the church as a whole.
But I also confess that saying "no" is hard. I really want to be able to say "yes" because the ramification are much nicer in the present. What can we do as pastors and congregations to encourage our pastors to truly be pastoral, even if it means we won't get exactly what we want sometimes?
Thoughts on General Conference 2016
4 days ago