Like a scene from The Lord of the Rings, I was on a quest. At times, my adventure felt dangerous. The stress was intense, and my frailties surfaced. Sometimes my hope was rekindled, and I continued my journey in earnest. And sometimes the prize seemed almost within reach, only to be snatched away at the last moment.
[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]I wanted a pastor. And I just couldn’t quite grab hold of one.[/tweet_box]
When I entered ministry, I assumed the pastor of the church I served would be my pastor. We’d become strong friends and allies, like a brotherhood of hobbits. We’d link arms in common purpose and spur one another toward love and good deeds. And when the church board threatened to steal our ring, we’d fight—to the death, if necessary—to hold onto our vision and calling.
Mostly what I found, however, was one fallible human after another. The pastors I served were often more concerned about keeping their job and keeping the peace than keeping me closer than a brother. This realization was devastating for me.
I leapt from church to church, hoping to find a leader who loved me, challenged me, supported me, and cared about my family and faith walk as much as I did. Sometimes we’d be climbing treacherous ministry terrain together, and I’d suddenly realize my pastor didn’t have my back. Other times it was clear before we ever left The Shire that community and camaraderie weren’t high on his list.
I began to wonder if this “ring” I sought even existed. I pondered what it meant to keep searching but never finding. Some pastors seemed like great shepherds, until their secrets came out. With others, I wondered how they could even call themselves a shepherd.
I knew I couldn’t bounce from one place to the next forever. Something had to change. I had to change.
Pastors, even the less-than-stellar ones, carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. But typically, they don’t sense they have many around them they can fully trust. Their job is to do for an entire congregation what I do for a small sub-set. I’ll bet they’re as drained and depleted as I am at the end of a day, a year, a season.
This realization hit me like a ton of bricks: [tweet_dis]To find the pastor I was searching for, I needed to be the pastor I was searching for. [/tweet_dis]Pastors have enough folks taking from them, snatching away sacred moments and Sabbath days. How could I make my pastor’s role easier, not harder? Would I be a help or a hindrance in the search for ministry treasure? Could I intercede for him in ways that weren’t self-serving?
Well, I had to, because all my pastors were looking for a pastor, too. They all sat next to one in staff meetings, maybe wondering why I wasn’t standing in the gap for them. They, too, craved the kind of ministry companion who would fight the forces of evil alongside them.
I finally found the pastor I’d been seeking. I was him.