In God’s grace, a pastor learns that they are serving their life’s great ministry, not that they are preparing for it.
This grace occurs as the story of God’s people intertwines with theirs, when God’s people are no longer a stepping stone or a means of achieving a plan, but when their stories become the fabric of the story of our ministry.
Their lives are far more compelling and engaging than my plans, ambitions, or delusions of grandeur.
From Diary Of A Pastor’s Soul:
When I think back on all the big mistakes I made as a pastor in my thirties, probably the greatest one was wanting to be a rising star. I never would have admitted that was my agenda, even to myself, but in those days hubris was a silent partner in most of my decisions. Another advantage to being a veteran of this work is that after four decades the churches I served have kicked most of that out of me. It’s another way congregations help the spiritual lives of their pastors. I don’t think anyone ever thought much about it or had a plan to put me in my place. They just let me fail enough times for me to get the message myself. And they let me discover that the success of the all-so-important new programs I initiated didn’t really make that much difference to anyone, including me. All that fuss only left us busier and more tired. But the most important way the congregation helped me stop thinking about my future is that it kept me distracted with the far more compelling stories of our parishioners’ lives.
Diary Of A Pastor’s Soul, M Craig Barnes, Brazos Press, 2020, pg 138.
I’ve never heard it expressed this way, but this sums up why I call the spaces I work in ‘study’ and not ‘office’.