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Leadership Journal

The following article is located at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/fall/essence-of-pastor/mystery-than-management.html

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.



Perry Noble

The Call to Care

David Swanson

Resting in Christ

Lillian Daniel

Always a Pastor

J.R. Woodward

Kingdom Influence

Ed Brown

More Mystery than Management

True ministry means staying open to the guidance of the Spirit.

Jim was a dark, thin man in his early forties, with a sad countenance. He had attended our church for a few weeks and heard about our Thursday night prayer meetings. We all sat in our usual circle and prayed "safe" prayers. These are the kind of public prayers that don't get to the core of our problems. We conceal the truth out of shame and pain.

How do you manage a moment like that? I've learned that it's best to allow the Holy Spirit to work. The essence of being a pastor is allowing my ministry to be more mystery than management.

But Jim was new to our church. He didn't know the rules. Plus he was in too much pain to worry about the opinions of others. Somewhere in midst of our "safe" prayers, Jim blurted out, "My wife left me and our two kids today! Please pray that she will come back home."

How do you manage a moment like that? I have learned that it is best to allow the Holy Spirit to work. So we got up and gathered around Jim. We laid our hands on him. And with tears flowing down our faces, we prayed for Jim and his family.

A few weeks later, Jim introduced me to his wife and two beautiful kids. After several months I was blessed to baptize both Jim and his wife. Then one Sunday their oldest child came forward and accepted Christ. I didn't know what to do in that prayer circle, so we let the Spirit lead. For me, the essence of being a pastor is allowing my ministry to be more mystery than management.

-Ed Brown, pastor of Skokie Valley Baptist Church, Wilmette, Illinois.