I remember when one of my professors, speaking to a class of young preachers, was expounding on the word “parson.” He droned on about how it’s an old English word that is drawn from the word “person.” In early England the parson was the person. He was likely the most schooled citizen in the community, maybe the only one who could read and write. He was seen as the fountain of wisdom, the arbiter of a variety of issues on many of which he was likely ignorant. But for many that title gave strong credibility to his pronouncements from the pulpit.
However, if we’re going to be honest with the New Testament description of a pastor we are more apt to picture him/her as servant in a servant church. That totally changes the imagery. The pastor is not the one around whom the church revolves, but rather the lover-in-residence. Item #1 on the pastor’s job description is to live and speak in such a way that everyone they meet is helped to fall in love with Jesus. Interestingly, that’s also the job description for the rest of us.
I wish we could change our terminology. Instead of telling people we want to “give them Bible studies,” I wish we could say something like, “Can we meet for lunch one day next week and study the Bible together?” The first can come across as arrogant, like, “I’ve got this all figured out and if you’ll let me I’ll straighten you out, too.” The second sounds more like, “You and I are on this journey together, and I know there are some things He’d like to teach us both.”
Truth without love can be judgmental. The Pharisees demonstrated that. Truth without love can make us critical. Truth without love can come across as prideful and that attracts no one. We don’t do our best ministry when we shout, “Come over here and be like us…” But rather when we say, “We just love falling in love with Jesus; let’s go together.” We lead not from the front but from the edge. We lead, not from the lectern, but from the stance of a learner.
And this is what drives our prayer time. When we pray we are admitting, “Lord, I don’t know how to be love for my new friend down the block; but You do.” As we spend the time with Him, He changes us. A very wise lady taught me, “Only by love is love awakened.” So, Lord, teach me how I can help everyone I meet fall in love with Jesus. Amen.
By Don Jacobsen