Pastorhood and Congregationhood

Thank you for the amazing gifts on Sunday celebrating ten years.  I was quite unsuspecting.  The cards were greatly appreciated and that artwork…Beautiful.  For those of you who weren’t present or didn’t get a close look, here’s a picture of the 12 canvases from eight CMC artists, stories pieced together like a comforter.

As a sequel to the blog two weeks ago, here are some more observations on pastorhood: 

When one goes to seminary one is told, correctly, that being a pastor is like many things.  It’s like a poet, a social worker, a CEO, a scholar, a community activist, a public speaker, a chaplain, an entrepreneur, a teacher, an administrator.  It includes improvising like a jazz musician.  Within the span of one day you could be a grief counselor, a janitor, a writer, an event planner, and a volunteer coordinator.  And some days you could be nothing but an emailer.

One of the metaphors I’ve found especially helpful is that of a general practitioner.  Less the doctor part, more the general part.  Pastors are, largely, generalists.  We’re competent at a lot of things, experts at nothing or almost nothing.  We’re not specialists, although we’re often in relationship with all kinds of specialists.  I get energized by the wideness of generalism.  That hypothetical multi-role day in the previous paragraph sounds like a fulfilling one.

Pastoring is a portion of all these things.  But, I’ve wondered, does that cover it?  Is the substance of pastoring just made up of bits and pieces of otherness, or is there something unique that makes pastorhood its own metaphor?    

I’m pretty sure, by this time, I have an answer for that.  What makes a pastor a pastor is the congregation.  Pastors are, and do, all these things within the life of a congregation.  And congregations are unique eco-spheres of people, stories, family systems, belief structures, values and common commitments.  A congregation is what makes a pastor a pastor and not something else.  You become a pastor alongside a congregation because they ask you to.    

This may sound ridiculously obvious but it’s a bit of a revelation when you’re loaded up with metaphors of everything except the thing you’ve supposedly been asked to be.

I’m grateful to this congregation for helping me become a better pastor – and overall better person – in these years.  And for whatever the next canvas yields in the years to come.