On Sunday mornings this summer, Heritage is exploring different myths commonly believed within Christianity during a “Mythbusters” teaching series. The week after each topic is taught from a biblical perspective, this blog will further dive into the issue at hand. We pray that this teaching series and the blog article that accompanies it will serve to be a resource as you reach your world for Christ.
By: Brent Cisson
Photo: Heather Templeton
“Thank God for sending us a minister to be here,” the concerned adult daughter commented to me. Just a few moments before, her elegant and elderly mother had taken an ill-fated step as she prepared to enter a local store. At the time, I walked only 15 feet away from her mother and watched, almost with slow motion eyes, as the octogenarian lady fell directly on her side in the parking lot.
Immediately, as any concerned people would act, another gentleman and I rushed over to help her off the pavement. As we waited for an ambulance to arrive to shuttle her off to discover the fate of her ailing hip, I leaned down and told her that I was a pastor at a local church and asked her if I could pray for her and her concerned daughter. She happily agreed and we parted ways a few minutes later as she lay in a comfortable hospital bed in the back of the ambulance.
As I reflected on the experience, I was grateful—grateful to be in a place to be an immediate help and to minister to a soul. However, as I often do, I began to parse away the words I used to introduce myself to her. I began to overthink. “Why did I not just introduce myself as a follower of Jesus?” “Would she have thought any less of my praying moment if I were not a pastor?” I hope not.
I then began to think of the numerous, often good-hearted, comments made to me by Jesus followers over the years. “Brent, you’re a pastor, can you pray for us?” “Brent, you’re a pastor, can you go visit this individual in the hospital?” “Brent, you’re a pastor, can you lead in this certain ministry?” As I hear those comments, I think, yes, I can certainly do that and would love to be a blessing to do any number of things to serve people.
However . . .
On the other side of those comments, I feel a level of concern. Is it wrong for Jesus followers to come to a “professional” pastor for prayer, counsel, or ministry? No. At the same time, is it concerning for Jesus followers to sidestep their opportunity to pray for, provide counsel for, or minister to others just so a pastor can do it? At many levels, I would say yes.
As with all things, I want to think biblically on this subject. Does the Word speak to this? Yes.
1 Corinthians 12 provides much of the impetus for the call of every Jesus follower to use the gifts given them by God for the glory of God in the local church. Paul, in his first letter to the church in Corinth, makes it clear that every spiritual gift that a Jesus follower possesses has the exact same origin—the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:11). However, these gifts are different. Some have the gift of wisdom, some knowledge, some faith, some healing, some miracles, some prophecy, some discernment, some tongues, and some the interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 12:8-10). Romans 12:6-8 also lists out some of the spiritual gifts that Jesus followers possess, though neither of these are presumed to be exhaustive.
Paul makes the point of varying spiritual gifts amongst Jesus followers to also point out that each of us serve a purpose in the body of Christ—His Church—to the glory of Christ. We each serve a purpose in the church the same way each part of our body serves a purpose (1 Cor. 12:12-31).
In general, after years of serving in the local church (as a pastor and as a lay person) and also through taking many spiritual gifts inventories, I have found that my top three spiritual gifts tend to be administration, teaching, and evangelism (in no particular order). God has graciously given those to me to serve the local church for the glory of God.
Can I let you in on a secret? There are people in our church that have those similar giftings that are not pastors. Some might be school teachers, some might be business owners, or some might be medical professionals. What distinguishes me (a “professional” pastor) from those individuals? At the end of the day, God has called me to serve in a different role for the glory of God.
At one time, I was convinced that I would become an athletic trainer. I love sports, I enjoy helping people, and I enjoy how the human body works. However, for some reason, God placed a distinct call on my life to serve as a pastor in the local church, the same way He has called many people to lead a child in the public school classroom.
Can I also share something that is often overlooked about me and most other pastors I have known? We struggle! We struggle with the same temptations and fears that non-pastors struggle with. I battle depression and anxiety. I battle the feeling of inferiority. I battle lust. I battle the feeling of failure as a husband and as a father.
I tell you those things to point out that the local church is an “all-hands-on-deck” organization. We are called by God to live for the glory of Jesus here in Medford and to the nations. I remember the pastor of the church we attended while in seminary frequently asking the following question mid-sermon: “Raise your hands if God has called you to be a missionary.” Inevitably, 35-40% of the church would raise their hands due to the pastor’s previous teachings that we are all missionaries in the ministry. He would then lean in to remind the rest of the church that we are all missionaries. We simply have different ways of being missionaries.
Can I remind you why we are missionaries? As John Piper says, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” Jesus deserves the worship of every person on Earth. Jesus deserves the worship of the guy that you work next to at the local oil change business. Jesus deserves the worship of the nurse that you serve with on a 12 hour night shift. Jesus deserves the worship of the defiant three year old that you get the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mother with. Jesus deserves the worship of all those folks near you and that is a population that, we, as “professional” pastors have little to no ability to reach.
Widening our scope, there are currently around 7.68 billion people living on the face of the Earth? Out of that number, somewhere around 3.2 billion people (41% of the world population) are considered unreached. In other words, they have little or no access to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of these individuals live in remote villages that are difficult to access. Some of these individuals live in countries that have governments that make it difficult for the gospel message to be shared. However, Jesus is worthy of their worship the same way Jesus is worthy of the worship of our next-door neighbor.
Whether you are a mechanic, a law enforcement officer, a store clerk, or a pastor, let’s be passionately “professional” about sharing the gospel here in Medford and to unreached peoples. Jesus is worthy of the worship of each of us!