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Leadership Journal

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The Essence of a Pastor

The Essence of a Pastor

Five pastors share stories about the core of their calling.

Why are you in ministry? At times it's hard to remember, isn't it? Especially when you're bogged down by dull or difficult tasks. Sometimes it takes a little reflection to remind you of what's truly important. We wanted to rediscover the core of the pastoral calling.

So we asked five church leaders to each describe one experience that illustrates the essence of being a pastor. We trust their stories will prompt you to do some reflecting of your own, and reignite your passion for ministry.

Lillian Daniel

Always a Pastor

My calling extends far beyond Sunday mornings.

I can't go anywhere without seeing a current, former, or potential parishioner. It's gotten so my teenage children refuse to eat out with me in our city. They don't like to share my attention with the people I recognize at other tables.

The other day I was leaving my yoga class sweaty and dirty, when I bumped into a new parishioner. This proud father had his four-day-old baby in a carriage by the snack bar. Right there I made the sign of the cross on the child's head and blessed him. I asked the dad to email the church with the details so we could be sure to mention the baby in our prayers. He whipped out his iPhone and sent it right away.

The next Sunday, as I was robed and leading worship, I caught sight of the whole family in the back row. When the baby's name was mentioned in the prayers, I couldn't help but open my eyes. The father's head sprang up at the sound of his child's name. As his eyes caught mine, he gave a smile of such wonder and delight.

A year ago this family of five had no church. Now they had a place to come and hear their baby's name lifted in prayer before of a community that promised to embrace them. Just as I am a minister in my long black robe and in my yoga clothes, they are part of a church, in the pews and at the gym.

-Lillian Daniel, senior minister of First Congregational Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois.