Eight months ago, the Lord called me to be a pastor of a church plant in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Admittedly, I did not raise my hand for the job. Nonetheless, the Lord called me, and so I am learning still to trust that He is also equipping me. His kindness and patience towards me is ever sweeter to me as I reckon with the bitter futility of my own strength. As a man full of pride, who has grown comfortable behind the pretense of self-sufficiency, and as a man who has learned from the world that bigger is better, that faster is more efficient, that success, even in pastoral ministry, is correlated to social media followers, I have much to learn about what it means to be a pastor of Jesus’ people—a people who are learning together to unlearn all we have been taught about the world and our place in it and to find our identity and our calling in the story of Jesus and his kingdom.
I am sure what follows is an incredibly insufficient portrait of a pastor, but as the Lord is slowly shaping me, I am trusting these desires he is planting in me are a good place to start. May the Lord be faithful to continue the work He has begun in me and in all of those who bear the seal of His Spirit—to grow His church up into the likeness of Jesus.
I want to be a pastor who is joyfully dependent on Jesus.
I want to be a pastor who is not simply a proclaimer of the gospel of grace but first a participant in the gospel of grace.
I want to be a pastor who loves my family above all else—to prioritize them over my own pursuits, to realize that they are my first pursuit, to carve out space that is sacred, devoted only to them, to invite them into the work the Lord is doing, to dignify them as participants with me in the Lord’s work, to work most mightily and most heartily and most joyfully among them, cultivating our home into a place alive with the glory of God.
I want to be a pastor who preaches the Word of God in a way that inhabits the imagination of His people compelling them to lay hold of Him as He has laid hold of them, who preaches the Word in a way that enlivens the intellect with the revelation of God in a way that makes it clear He is the fountain and source of all that is true and right and pure.
I want to be a pastor who is not bound by people’s expectations but is bent on bringing people to Jesus.
I want to be a pastor who rests, who accepts my own limitations as creature made to depend on my Creator who never sleeps nor slumbers, whose work in Jesus offered me entrance into His rest.
I want to be a pastor who inhabits the lives of others with the power of the Spirit that they might be conformed into the image of Christ.
I want to be a pastor who so emphatically embraces the Word that it dwells in me richly, that it might not be simply informative but transformative.
I want to be a pastor who stewards time in a way that dignifies my various vocations as husband, father, friend and neighbor and fulfills them well, whose calendar is intently liturgical, setting the pattern of the week to the rhythms of God’s grace and responding to God’s call.
I want to be a pastor who disappears in service of the Spirit illuming Christ for His people.
I want to be a pastor who raises up a new crop of pastors in God’s church.
I want to be a pastor who helps people discover their place in God’s story that they might be freed to play the part they have been given as the Spirit-filled people of God.
I want to be a pastor who is at home in the beautiful tension between this world and the world to come, between order and chaos, between grace and truth, between working hardily in all things and resting deeply in all things, between joy and sorrow, between beauty and disaster, between the already and the not yet.
I want to be a pastor who longs deeply for and hopes profoundly in the appearing of Jesus.
I want to be a pastor who is with Christ and with others.
I want to be a pastor who is first and supremely a pastor, not a CEO or an innovator or an entrepreneur or popular figure or organizational guru.
I want to be a pastor who is well acquainted with my own shortcomings and weaknesses, who never ceases to marvel at the depth of mercy and width of grace and height of love shown me by God while I was a sinner so that I am postured always in humility before God and before others.