Quite often someone will suggest I start a church or go to work for one. As a pastor.
A good speaker, I want to explain, isn’t necessarily a good pastor. And I wouldn’t be a good pastor. Not now. But I’m getting better.
Speaking requires a bit of charisma. Pastoring requires a lot of compassion.
Speaking builds rapport with a crowd. Pastoring builds relationship with individuals.
Speaking is passionate talking. Pastoring requires patient listening.
Speaking is over in twenty to forty-five minutes. Pastoring is for the long haul.
I know what to say from a stage and how to say it, but what about…
…when the couple miscarries…again.
…the husband, languishing beneath depression, refuses to get out of bed.
…the wife confesses she’s had an affair.
…the teenager is cutting herself.
…the Sunday school teacher loses faith.
…the routine surgery ends badly.
What do you say then? When the spotlight is off, the crowd has cleared and it’s just one person looking into the eyes of another person who is hurting, questioning, angry.
I had lunch with a man today who pastors well. He also happens to be a great speaker. When I need more than staged eloquence I turn to friends and mentors like him…for lunch, laughter, confession. And to learn how to be more than a speaker to the people who listen and look to me.
Maybe you’ve never thought about all that’s involved in being a great pastor. Maybe it’s time to say “thank you” to a few pastors in your life. I bet they don’t hear it often enough.