This coming October, I will have been in the ministry for 22 years and been pastoring for 18. The Lord has allowed me to be on the field for sometime to be working in my calling and vocation for awhile now. Eighteen years is not a long time, but it is a long time to be doing the same thing, especially when you’re in the twilight of your career and vocation.
I have pastored four churches full-time, and during my first assignment, I was a seminary student who pastored on the weekend. My journey in ministry has led me to pastor three churches in three different states. God moves in mysterious ways. But the one thing I have learned is that people are the same, no matter where you live. All of us have basic human needs and wants. We all instinctively desire to clothe and feed ourselves to the best of our abilities. We all need and desire to love and to give love. We all need to feel wanted and respected.
People are the same all over the world, and churches are all the same. In each church, their are groups and cliques. In each church, people cling together for power, influence, and control. In each church across America, people want to show others how smart they are, or how right they are. In each church, we have people who brag about who they know and how well they are connected. In each church, there are certain groups that can make or break a preacher or kill any program that they disagree with. It’s not so much about the preacher or even the program, but it’s about power and control. The reality is, the less power you have at home or at work, the more power people try to have in their social clubs, fraternities, and churches.
This is not a statement of opinion, but a reality. In the early 20th Century, the 1900’s many men and women entered the ministry not because they were called but because the Church was the only place where a man or woman could be respected, looked up to, and admired. Certain professions were closed to blacks. Professions like law, medicine, etc. were closed to us, and the only place a black person could be somebody or a person of significance/influence was in the Church. So while the Church grew in the early 1900’s, there were a lot of people who had no business pastoring or being spiritual leaders.
Likewise, there were lots of people who served in leadership roles in the church, particularly officers who should never have been trusted with the lay leadership of the Church.
Even today in the 21st Century, there are many preachers who should be lawyers, businessman, teachers, but not proclaimers, preachers, and pastors. There are lots of preachers who have the gift of preaching, but who should not pastor. There are pastors who do not genuinely have the gift of preaching or are too lazy to read and study and prepare themselves for Bible Study and Sunday morning preaching.
Likewise, there are lay leaders in the Church: Stewards, Trustees, Class Leaders, etc. who should not be serving in the role. If the Church is a program for you, you should not serve. But if the church is a ministry (service), you should serve.
All that we do in the Church is centered around that one passage of Scripture called the Great Commission.
All authority has been given to me, therefore go ye therefore into the all the world and preach the Gospel, Baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.
That should be our motivating premise for all that we do in the life of the Church. If the Great Commission is not our passion, perhaps we should find out what the passion is and pursue it.