Bearing Witness & Vocation
It is not uncommon for me to get a question concerning what my opinion on something is. Often, they are good, and holy things:
What’s God’s Will in my life?
Where is God at work?
Other times they’re more trivial, tricky, and sometimes dumb. Other times my opinion is less of an opinion, and more of a consultation in an area of expertise. This is a very common issue amongst those in pastoral ministry: people ask us to speak on things we have no business speaking on.
I remember one occasion when I was with a business owner, they made a comment somewhere in the ballpark that I didn’t know anything about their particular field of business, therefore I didn’t know anything about leadership. They had already made the decision that I should have been an expert in whatever field they were knowledgeable in. When my opinion is asked on something, it is seldom an opinion.
Unfortunately, that’s not unique for pastors. By the grace of God, we are not to be experts in everything. That’s not our job.
The last sentence only begs the question: “what is our job?”
Is it to:
Preach the Word?
Shepherd the Flock?
Innovate & Lead?
Maybe. Regardless of your preference or persuasion there is an action and unction that happens within the scope of pastoral ministry that dictates a lot of what we do, how we interact with others, and whether or not we have to be experts on everything.
I will break this up into two segments, one that lends to the other:
The work of prophetic imagination is to alert others to the reality that God is doing something new, or the capacity to move beyond the world as it seems and alert others to the redemptive work that God is doing so that they might see what might be.
If we believe in the Kingdom reality: that the Kingdom is both here, but not yet, then we should see our work as alerting others to the world around them being consumed by the all-consuming Kingdom of God. If everything already belongs to King Jesus, does that not dictate a different way by which we live, and not just us as pastors, but our parishioners as well? This posture makes all the difference with Bearing Witness, and how we stop from getting asked to be an expert on everything.
The vocational obligation of pastoral ministry is to not be an expert on unrelated subjects, but to bear witness, point to the existence of the oncoming of the Kingdom of God. It is to uniquely prod the space between the ribs of a fallen culture where the rays of the Kingdom are shining through and to say, “this is God’s light breaking in,” and to beckon to the people of God, “come be a part of this.”
We do pastoral ministry a disservice when we attempt to be an expert on every issue the local church faces. Our job is to continually alert others that they are called to live under and bear witness to the reign of Jesus in every area of life. One writer says it this way, “All Christians are in full-time service of the Lord Christ; the only difference is where we are called to serve. And the role of the pastor/preacher is to keep us attentive to God in the midst of all the challenges of contemporary life.”
I fear that many who are called into full-time service of the Kingdom are not interested in exercising their prophetic imagination, which is an active experience of faith, and are not willing to risk being allegiant to Christ and His Kingdom when the masses instead are looking for self-help, expanding their personal fiefdoms, and whetting the appetite of the flesh.
Press on, friends.