What did I do today? I recorded a lesson for a class that I’m teaching on Sunday at my church. I’m not going to be there, and we were supposed to have church last week, but the weather didn’t allow it, so I recorded the lesson so that everyone can see my smiling face on Sunday;-)
It was suggested to me that I ought to have just let someone else teach the lesson, but if you are a teacher, you know how hard it is to let someone else “fill your spot.” It goes further than that though, because teachers aren’t just control freaks, they’re also acutely aware of the fact that there is a great responsibility that comes with that title/office, and the possibility of people being misled from your absent post is something you take very seriously. With great amount of teaching, comes great responsibility? Maybe that quote’s seen its better days, but the point isn’t missed I hope.
As it is, I LOVE teaching. I thought today as I was recording that lesson that I work so much better with a crowd, and although that may sound strange, today I learned something about myself….I love teaching, but the REASON I love teaching is because I love people. I love teaching because I love seeing people learn and grow. It’s harder to see those things when you’re talking to a computer screen (or writing blog posts for that matter). I know there are some people out there who enjoy “offering up” their teachings to youtube and blogspot etc…because they just enjoy knowing that their “stuff” is out there. I’m just not like that though. I want there to be people receiving my words. And that may sound prideful (and it is to some extent), but the real truth behind that is a perspective thing. See, most people who want to teach do so because they have “something to say.” I’ve found that, although this is true of all teachers in one sense, for me, it’s more that I DON’T want to teach unless there’s someone who wants to listen. This wasn’t always the case for me, and so for those of you who’ve known me for a long time, I know that at first reading you’re just thinking “yeah right.” But, ever since I became an elder at Hope Baptist Church, I’ve realized that the reason I love, and in some ways even live for, teaching, is because God has ordained that I would be given people who “want to listen.” I used to want to be famous. I had so many things that I was going to say from some huge platform in front of thousands of people. I was going to be the next John Piper, or Jonathan Edwards…or whatever. And there IS still a part of me that would love that, but I have really shifted very far away from that. I’ve realized that what I want more than any of that, is simply to be a faithful pastor of a faithful, healthy church. I just want to teach people who want to hear. I don’t NEED to get on my soapbox about all of my game changing ideas anymore (not that I ever really had any), all I need is to know what God wants me (and our other elders) to give to our little church body.
That’s really the mark of a pastor though isn’t it? I think one of the big problems with the churches here in america today has to do with the idea that every single guy coming out of seminary thinks that one day he will be the next John MacArthur, or Al Mohler, or any other big name you’d like to insert there. Very few of these guys imagine that one day they’ll have 5 kids in 3 years, be driving a paper route, and just being a pastor at a church of 50 or less. But they miss it. They miss the magnificent calling that is. They miss the massive, glorious, wonderful, frightful, and yet marvelously joyful calling that simply being able to stand in a pulpit and proclaim God’s truth is. Oh that these men would see the glory and grace in God’s decision to ever put us in any pulpit!
Instead though, so many pastors look at these small churches simply as “stepping stones” toward larger churches, and that I say, is completely wicked! It is despicable to merely use a church as one step in your “career” as a pastor. And yet, it happens, and it happens often. I have to believe that much of this has to do with the fact that our pastors come into churches with a false vision of grandeur. They come into churches with a worldly idea of success. They come into churches believing that if their churches don’t grow, then they need to move to churches that will “appreciate” what they have to offer. It becomes an issue of credentials, and it’s evil. Oh if only they would remember Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. If only they would remember that success as a pastor isn’t measured by the faithful response of the hearers, but by the faithful proclamation of the preacher!
I was listening to Mark Dever preach to pastors a while back, and he said something that stuck with me. He was quoting John Brown, and he was speaking in part, of the problem with pastors viewing their ministry in a physical and worldly light. Specifically he was speaking to pastors as they struggle with false visions of grandeur (though he didn’t use that specific term).
The quote is of John Brown speaking to a young pastor, as he has just become the pastor of a small church, and I think it’s a great way to sum up the belief that I have regarding my church.
“I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ, at His judgment-seat, you will think you have had enough.”
Amen, and goodnight!