What I Would Want to Know – The Role of Pastor
- Prelude: Pauline Olson
- Welcome and opening prayer: Pastor Brad Beeman
- Hymn: “God of Grace and God of Glory,” by Harry Emerson Fosdick; Cynthia Zenner, vocalist
- Special music: Tom Dowdell, “Stormy Weather” medley
- Scripture: Deacon Kathleen Charters
- Message: Pastor Brad Beeman
- Hymn: “Make me a servant,” by Kelly Willard; Cynthia Zenner, vocalist
- Benediction: Pastor Brad Beeman
- Postlude: Pauline Olson
The Role of the Pastor
I am an artist. For years I kind of shied away from saying that; didn’t share my art and really didn’t want folks to know that I find solace in art. It was my thing. That changed a few years back as I sold copies of some of my art to support a few ministries around the globe.
This Sunday I want to share one drawing. Over time I’ll begin to share some others with you. The one for today is a part of an emerging series. It has taken around seven years to finish; at least to finish so that I would show anyone. Like last week, this piece of art represents a part of what and who I believe Jesus was and is, fundamentally, at his core. It also accurately represents how I see my most significant roles as pastor. It focuses on the gospel lesson that describes the last supper. Only in John does Jesus do more than the Passover feast. In John’s gospel, my favorite by the way, even before the Passover Feast begins, Jesus does the unthinkable. He washes the feet of the disciples.
Just a reminder that to wash feet in the time of Jesus was arguably the worst job a servant could do. Remember, they all wore sandals, open-toed, open heeled, open-sided, sandals. Think for just a second what they were walking through. It wasn’t clean pavement, wasn’t clean anything. If it was in town, it was often through water that had been thrown into the trampled dirt street. The water was ripe with rotting vegetables, animal feces, and other various household items not wanted in the house. If it had rained, whatever was in the street or on the path was mixed with the rainwater and became mud; often mud that could overwhelm anyone with the smell. If it was on a well-traveled path, particularly in certain areas of Galilee and Judea, the paths, even the roads were also hard-packed dirt. They would get dusty, and cover, not only the feet but the whole of the lower robe. Feet were filthy. It was the lowliest of servants that were assigned the task of washing feet.
The servants would meet travelers or guests or householders at the door. They would have seats available, remove their sandals, and with a basin and a towel wrapped around their waist, wash the feet by dipping the feet in the basin, and wash the feet with their bare hands. They would then wipe the feet, once clean, with the towel. If the individual feet were particularly dirty, the servant would go to the well, or have a bucket already available, toss out the dirty water so that the next person would not have their feet washed in filth. It was a tedious job, thankless, terrible job. But Jesus did it for his disciples.
As he washed their feet, Jesus talked about servanthood, and that if we aren’t willing to be washed by him, no matter how filthy they may be, then they would have no part of him. To be washed by Christ was part of the relational connection. He didn’t stop there. He stated that now they were to wash the feet of others. The same goes for us.
As difficult as that concept may be, it is how I see my role. I’m a bit more like Peter when it comes to all of this, but my hope, my goal, what I aspire to, is to be like Jesus…to serve and help people become whole, clean, accepted, refreshed…whatever the need may be. I believe the role of a pastor is not to be at the top of some hierarchical triangle. It is to invert the triangle with the pastor at the bottom seeking to support all aspects of ministry in the church, as feet washing and the work expands above them. To me, that is the model of Jesus. It is to teach, train, support, assist, inspire, encourage and love all of those who count on me for support; from the core leaders, to the staff, to the Ad Council, the work teams, and on to each parishioner. That describes my first priority – meaning you, Trinity. It is to serve you. But it also extends on into the community and even into the world. But let me talk about leadership for a second.
I was working in youth ministry in Silicon Valley in the mid-1980s when the whole computer industry was ready to explode. It was a few of the Hewlett Packard execs who introduced me to the whole idea of the inverted triangle. They had basically reinvented management. They called it, “Management by walking around.” It was relational, connected them with their teams, and then expanded from there. Then I was introduced to my favorite leadership author. His name is Max DePre. He wrote a small book titled, “Leadership is an Art.” It is double spaced, really short, and talks about relational leadership. He is another of my leadership gurus. I don’t think I’ve shared that I served on the National Board of Young Life for a short time. It was through Young Life that I began a relationship with Christ. Chuck Ferguson was my Young Life leader in Spokane. We had somewhere around 400 high school kids active. Among the many concepts I carry with me from Young Life is their catchphrase for why they do what they do.
They are able to connect with high school kids by winning the right to be heard. It’s all about relational ministry and I believe that’s the role of pastor as well. So, my primary role is as a spiritual leader. In the midst of that, I see my role as winning the right to be heard, to build relationships that will grow into relationships of trust. It’s relationships of trust that then build toward relationships of risk. And it’s a risk that leads to growth; and it’s a risk that leads to a willingness to share the love of God, a relationship with Christ, and offering outreach to those in need. Now, I will share that some churches I’ve served have overwhelmed me with administrative items and I felt as though the whole spiritual leader part of my job kind of disappeared. I’m really hoping that doesn’t happen here. My call is not to be a CEO, CFO, COO of the organization. My call is to answer to the call of Christ as a pastor; to serve you and serve God; to inspire, motivate, encourage, sometimes push us toward living out the gospel in action.
My role is to preach and teach, to pray and visit, to listen, and take action when needed. My role is to get to know you as much as I can, particularly in this time of social distancing, and prayerfully work together to make it all work. Again, one of my favorite scriptures is Romans 8:28. Paul writes, “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Well, my job is to help us live that out and it begins with washing your feet in whatever way is needed. Pastoral ministry is to be something humbling, not haughty; loving and not judgmental; giving with no thought of receiving; accepting as you are yet trying to help each one be better as people of faith. So there you have it in one really short synopsis. And by the way, when I tell you that I’m praying for you, please know that I’m really praying for you. I’m beginning to go picture by picture through the directory and praying for each of you. I’ve read every questionnaire I’ve received, and read them more than once. I want to know you…but more than anything, I want you to know who I am so that you can begin to trust me. I’m already growing to love you. I certainly love this church and this community.
But we’ve got work to do and that’s the sermon for next week. Let’s pray…