Why are there so many in pastoral ministry who don’t seem to have much time for people? I’m not talking about introverts who would rather be on their own with a book here – not least because many of those guys are excellent with people and love them properly but find the energy they expend doing that part of their work drains them. No, I’m talking about the guys who just don’t have time for people unless they are the kind of people who can do something for them.
If you’ve been in the church for any length of time, you will know it is a group of sinful people trying to help one another become more like the sinless person of Jesus Christ. With all its faults and flaws, that is the vehicle the Lord decided to use to build his kingdom and mould his people. Given all that, it should hardly be any surprise to anyone that church ministers also sin. They are the platformed sinners, teaching all the other sinners, regardless of their own sin, about the sinless Christ we want to be like.
But there is a certain sin that seems increasingly common in ministers that I find hard to understand how, given the tendency, they end up in pastoral ministry. In fact, I was chatting with someone else about this (in general) and they glibly noted, ‘there’s quite a lot of those guys about.’ The issue I’m talking about is those guys who just aren’t bothered with you, who have no interest in you, unless you are someone of note or worth (in their view) bothering with. There seems to be a disturbingly high number of these sorts of people in pastoral ministry.
It is noteworthy because, in essence, pastoral ministry is all about people. And given that pastors are sinners leading other sinners towards a sinless saviour, you’d have thought there would be some recognition – what with the particular gospel we proclaim and all – that as sinners none of us are worthy of Christ’s love, care and respect. We have receive such grace from him, that we don’t deserve, which ought to cause us to view others with the same gracious love. Whether I reckon you deserve my interest/respect/love/care doesn’t really come into it. Jesus has graciously reached out to me and so I ought to graciously reach out to others. Pastoral ministry never extends beyond people.