Life goes on, even for non-pastor types. Remind me to tell you sometime about why I am a teacher and evangelist and not a pastor.
Very well, then. I’ll do it now.
God gives different gifts to those in the ecclesia. Some are pastors, some are teachers, some are evangelists, some are jerks, and so forth. I am a teacher and an evangelist, but not a pastor. I have checked all my bones, and not one of them is a pastor bone.
The word pastor, in Greek, is poimen, and it means, “shepherd.” A shepherd is one who tends sheep. A shepherd has to hang around sheep all day and all night. He has to lead, feed, water and guard the sheep. He is burdened daily and nightly with the care of the sheep. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I do not have it in me to guard, feed (literally feed, with food) or water you. It is all I can do to guard, feed and water my family. I water them well because I bought a Culligan reverse osmosis water filter for our home. But I cannot buy a Culligan reverse osmosis filter for your home. I can’t even say, “I wish I could, but I can’t,” because I do not even wish I could. It is simply not in me to stretch myself this thin. I do hope you get one of these filters, though—I do. I want you to have good water, but I shall not be concerned and burdened by the thought. I simply cannot afford to lose sleep over your water condition. But do look into the Culligan filter, not for my sake, but for yours.
I’m too tired to lead you. To lead you, I might have to stay up past 8:30 p.m., which I am unwilling to do. To feed you, I would have to go to the grocery store yet again, which I already go to about three or four times a day because the four other members in my immediate family need different things, all at different times. It’s all I can do to keep my own family in milk. Everyone drinks different kinds. And they all run out at irregular intervals. If I screw up this milk situation, then I’ve really blown it in life, and I don’t want to do that.
I thank God that I’m not a pastor. Lots of pastors I know neglect their own families. The fact that so many pastors do this makes me think that the people are not really pastors. If they were really pastors, God would give them supernatural ability to care for their families first, then shepherd the people of God later. Real pastors must be able to survive on scant sleep. That isn’t me; I get up at 4:30, but I go to bed at half past eight. I do okay on seven hours, but anything less makes me want to nap or die. Real pastors must have broad shoulders and sturdy backs. That isn’t me; I do do resistance training to build my deltoids and latissimus dorsi, but this is so I will feel good and look sexy, not so that I can shepherd you and your kin. I’m sorry. Please don’t take that personally.
I do feel the burdens of the world, but in an impersonal way. I weep for the miserable occupants of this planet, I do. Disasters tear me up. When I read in the newspaper of a fatal car accident, I’m troubled. I can mourn for days over people I don’t even know. I weep for the race, but this does not necessarily make me send a card.
I do not cook spaghetti for the sick. Maybe I should. I thank God that not everyone is like me. Thank you, God and Jesus, that so many people do not think like the person I have become. If I was in the hospital, I would want spaghetti cooked for me. (No meatballs, please, just plenty of marinara sauce.) Perhaps this is real lack on my part. Maybe there is something wrong with me. I’m willing to admit that there is. Or maybe it’s simply that I’m not the pastor type—I am much more willing to admit to that.
I pray for people constantly, but with inarticulate groanings rather than with formulated words. Whether this helps people or not, I don’t know. I suppose it does, only because the spirit is praying instead of me. I do formulate words on occasion, but not that often. When people are on my mind in a general way, then I consider that praying for them. People say, “Pray for so-and-so,” and I say “Surely, I will,” and then I’ll think about that person for about thirty seconds or so, and count that as praying for them. After that, the spirit takes over. The apostle James would scold me for this because he says what good is it to pray for people if you don’t bring them warm mittens in the winter? I believe I’m paraphrasing the man. Well, if you really need mittens, I’ll send them to you. If someone approached me and severely needed mittens, I would surely render the mittens. I am a decent human being that way.
I heard another teacher, Ray Prinzing, tell a parable of the torrentially running river and the ocean. He said that the torrentially running river isn’t much practical good because you can’t put a boat on it, you can’t fish from it, you can’t swim in it, and so it goes. But the river is doing something, that is, it’s rushing to the ocean. In fact, it’s rushing because of the ocean. When the water of the river gets to the ocean, it can bear the greatest of seafaring vessels. Ray said that he was like the roiling water of the river, rushing to get to God. Not much practical good now, but just wait.
The sooner I get into God, the sooner I’ll be able to make James happy.
I still do some good now. People get blessed by my writing and speaking. Teaching suits me because I can drop a truth and run. Instead of giving you fish and giving you fish and trying to hook you another big fish, I can hand you a pole and go home. I give you principles. I make tapes or CD’s, or I write things, then I go away; I love doing this. It’s a fantastic method for me because you can learn about God from my pen or my voice while I’m home sleeping, or eating spaghetti at the hospital.
It takes special skills to pastor, but also to teach. The teacher must be able to ignore people and not consider their feelings. This is hard for some people to do. Some people never can learn it. My wife, for instance (God bless her) can neither do nor learn it.
I am willing to help people, but I like for people to be able to help themselves. I love to be appreciated and complimented, as long as no one asks me to pastor or boil pasta. I love to be hugged and kissed, but all within reason. (Melody is the exception to this rule, of course, and for this very reason I am considering shaving my facial hair. Melody pulled out a dish brush the other day and scrubbed my lips with it and said, “How do you like kissing that?” And I said, “Well, it didn’t feel very good, but I am becoming emotionally attached to the brush.”
I told Melody that I would shave off my facial hair, if it meant that I could begin kissing her unreasonably. Melody said, “But I love how you look with it.” Sigh. What am I to do? This is another topic entirely, so I will forgo it for now. But do you see? I can’t stop talking about my situation. I would make a lousy pastor, due to this. Pastors must talk incessantly about you. I do want to help you with your situation, but I can do that best by writing books for you, and talking to all of you at the same time on a tape or a CD. In this way, ZenderTalk works for me. It works better for me than visiting each of you individually, buying each of you a water filter, or constantly running to the grocery on your behalf, or fending off your many kisses with my bristly face.)
In all this I am trying to justify myself for not visiting the nursing home to see Herb.
Looking back, I see that I haven’t done it.
© 2006 by Martin Zender