The Pastor Your People Love

June 18, 2013

Tuesday Re-mix –

One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.  
Psalm 27:4

gaze-upon-the-lordI think I am a pretty good supporter of my pastor…I try to do the things he asks and I try not to do things I know he would frown upon…but he is going to HATE this post.  And that makes me happy.   I have learned a great deal about “shepherding” from watching my pastor.  In fact, in my work with conflicted congregations, there have been many times when I wished young pastors could just sit with my pastor for a few days and learn the balance between humility and authority, between assertive and quiet, between empowering and disciplining.  My pastor has shaped how I see many of the difficult issues pastors face today.

I am meditating this week on the 27th Psalm, and it made me consider what kind of leader David must have been in order to say these things.  Amazing and gifted in so many ways, but at the end of the day, he just loved God and wanted to spend “all the days of his life…gazing upon the beauty of the Lord.”  Those “mighty men” of his probably followed him for lots of reasons, but surely none more compelling than this.  He was a mighty warrior, a passionate leader, a visionary King, a loyal friend, and the quintessential complicated, flawed hero…lovable for so many reasons.  But all those qualities and characteristics of David boiled down to a shepherd boy who loved God above all else…”this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord…“.

That desire (and the disciplines which reflect it) is at the very core of every great pastor.  It is absolutely at the very core of my pastor.  Yes, we all want to be loved well by our pastor, yes we all want to be spiritually nurtured and fed and cared for, and yes we all want to follow visionary leaders who push us to accomplish things well beyond our imaginations.  But more than any of that, beyond our own selfish needs and desires, we need a pastor who adores the Lord and craves His presence above all else.  A few times a year, no matter what else may be going on at the church, my pastor pulls away for a few quiet days with the Lord.  I have watched in times of enormous stress as he maintains his disciplined prayer life.  I have walked with him through his own terminal illness and seen a peace that surpasses all understanding.  As with King David, at the end of the day, it is not the giftedness nor the charisma nor the huge pastoral skills…it is a solid, time-tested near-desperate thirst for the Lord.

Pastors and church leaders, do not be fooled by the cultural press to be awesome visionaries filled with charisma above all else.  Rather, make sure your disciplines reflect nothing short of this attitude…”this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord…“.  I will follow that all day long.

© Blake Coffee
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