And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. – Jeremiah 3:15
I did not grow up wanting to be a pastor. I sort of stumbled into it by default. I’ve been told from my early teen years that I was a good teacher and I’ve developed that skill over the years. But I didn’t want to be a pastor, just a teacher.
However, this was the problem I encountered with not wanting to be a pastor: in order to be a teacher in a church, too often I was forced to fit into the mold of the senior pastor. He wanted to recreate me in his image, make me be like him. He wanted me to think like him, have his sense of humor and his manner of speech. Too often they wanted a “mini-me.” And since I wasn’t always willing to be like him, my teaching opportunities were infrequent.
The Lord says in Jeremiah 3:15 that He will give people shepherds (pastors) after His own heart. If this is so, then why did most pastors I served with (read that, “under”) want to make me in the image of their heart at the expense of God’s heart? Why did I have to do an imitation of them in order to do what God called me to do? I finally determined that to do what I felt called by God to do I had to be a pastor, a shepherd and leader, after God’s own heart. I couldn’t do an imitation of a pastor still living in the 1970’s. I had to be who God called me to be.
I’ve been reading Eugene Peterson’s new memoir The Pastor. In this book he quotes Baron Friedrich von Hügel who said “there are no dittos in souls.” When I read that I wanted to jump up and shout, “That’s it! I don’t have to be like anyone else. I just need to follow the heart of God!”
Now, before you go off and just “be yourself,” claiming all you need to do is obey God, not man, quoting Acts 5:29 as your proof text, you should know that when you follow the heart of God you also follow the leadership structures He has set up. I have willfully submitted to the leadership structure of my denomination. However, in that submission I am also free to be the pastor God has called me to be. No one in my denomination has ever suggested I would be a better pastor if I were more like Bro. So-and-So.
I want to encourage you, my half-dozen readers, to be the shepherd/pastor/leader that God has established after His own heart. Stop trying to imitate your favorite pastor order to be “successful.” Or worse, stop being manipulated by other leaders to do their imitation of what it means to be a successful shepherd/pastor/leader. When God gifted you, He did so knowing what He was doing. He didn’t make a mistake. He didn’t make a ditto soul or a ditto pastor.
Now, when you feed on that “knowledge and understanding,” you’ll be ready to be the best at whatever God has created you to be. There may be some dittoheads on the radio, but there are none in the Kingdom of God.
Thanks for this, it is so true! Much to think about in my ministry.
Thank you for these great words! God has been speaking to me about this lately. I believe is saying to use the specific gifts and talents He has given to this specific creation. He will bless me as long as I use those gifts for His glory. And I will say, with great posts like this you will have more than half a dozen readers : )
Thanks. It is a process for all of us to be submitted to our leaders and also find our own leadership place. As long as you truly seek to be yourself as you glorify God, while at the same time letting others be themselves, you’ll be a successful minister. Blessings.
You are welcome.
Wow! You’ve got SIX readers?? I need to step it up!! 😀
Seriously, though . . . I’m still working on this concept. It’s difficult, because I think, as humans, we tend to want to imitate those we can see, rather than him whom we cannot see. That sentence is probably a grammatical nightmare. Which is why I’m a musician, not an English teacher.
I do believe we want to imitate those we see. As a fellow musician, I’m inspired by other musicians who have the chops I wish I had. However, I’ve rarely met a good musician who tries to create the student in their own image. If I could take piano lessons from Keith Jarrett (wouldn’t THAT be a dream!!), Keith would teach me technique and mood and the soul of the piano, but he wouldn’t want me to be another Keith; he’d want me to be a unique Jim. This is just what I haven’t always encountered working for some pastors. This is why I strive to let my staff be themselves as we work toward to same goal of bringing the power and presence of Jesus into the lives of the people we encounter.
Being comfortable in our OWN skin (not sure i like “skin”) be that as it may the message is there. It is written somewhere “if we compare ourselves with ourselves we are without understanding”. Not sure I get the jest of that completely, but worken on it.
Forever your brother
ps So if I am 5 or 6 and 7 signs on am I more important than 7 or does 8 trump me?
Its my conundrum.