While reflection on my brief tenure in the pastorate I can say in all honesty that there is no greater joy than to work in the area of oneâ€™s passion. For about two months I have been living in a region of the country completely foreign to me, involved in an immense act of service towards individuals who constantly perplex, surprise, and at times even serve as a source of agony. Nonetheless, I can’t think of anything else Iâ€™d rather be doing! In the next few posts, I will discuss this time in light of the very helpful image from the Apostle Paul.
A Pastor is a Planter
I am like a gardener, a planter to be specific. Paul loaned me this terminology in his first pastoral correspondence to the church at Corinth. Paul, in the third chapter around the fifth and sixth verse (1 Corinthians 3:5-6), apparently frustrated from the division within the church, records that he and Apollos are not rivals but teammates pursuing the same goal. He further asserts that all in that church have specified roles. Paul says that one plants, another waters, and then God finishes the job by giving the increase. I like this! It actually is a suitable way of summing up my pastoral ministry thus far; I am a planter.
Digging up Weeds
Planters, have a tough multifaceted job. They have the back breaking work of digging up weeds. Now weeds come in all sorts of shapes, forms, and fashions. And some weeds have deep roots that extend way down deep into the ground. Some weeds are flourishing, and have been for a while. Nonetheless, weeds are the enemies of the desired output of any garden because weeds choke out produce.
As a planter, it is incumbent upon me to rid the soil of weeds, all weeds in the multifaceted ways in which they can sprout up. This is no easy task; there are weed-personalities that choke-out growth of any sort; there are weed practices which choke out the prospects of human flourishing as they lead to self consumption; and then finally there are weed paradigms which choke out the cultivation of new and exciting ways of being in the world.
In my pastorate, I have been digging! I have been digging up weed-personalities that won’t allow personal or communal growth. These weed-personalities stifle our movement. Often these “weed-personalities” stem from negative self images or negative images of the church. Whatever the case, we preachers have to dig the weed out. I have seen weed-practices in the church that have had to be pulled out. Some wanted to hold on, but God has given me the assignment of digging out the weeds. Finally, the hardest of all, I have had to pull weed-paradigms that stifle any kind of creativity.
Pulling Weeds is not the Only Task
Yes I have had to dig up the weeds, but this is not the only part of the job of the planter and it is not the only part of my job as pastor-preacher. in the next few posts we will discuss tilling the soil and planting the seeds. While pulling the weeds is not one of the enjoyable aspects of my job, I know that God will give the increase that God has promised in the word, so I go on ahead and dig up them weeds so that the Master won’t find me sleeping on the job that was assigned to me.