Playing the "Pastor" Card

So I played my “pastor” card for the first time today. In the past, my activities at church have been under the rubric of “intern” or “volunteer”. But today, accompanying two friends to the hospital, it was expedient to use the word pastor, and I must say, it sounded different. I can see how easy it is to get a big head with this title. “Pastor” is much like “Doctor”. It is a title that is earned, but so easily abused, not usually officially or on purpose, but abused none-the-less. I think it can all too easily lead to a type of pride that is wholly un-pastoral.

So more about this trip to the hospital.

If you remember from a previous post, I took a job at a recycling center to befriend the homeless. Well, low and behold that happened, and as a result, a married couple that is homeless started coming to our church. One thing led to another, and now they are trying to detox from alcohol. Well today when they came to church, she was in bad shape, going through alcohol withdrawl. Talking with her after the service, we found out just how bad it was, so Itook her to the emergency room. I spent the rest of the afternoon playing pastor, even taking the liberty of parking in the spot designated for pastors.

For the rest of the afternoon, I was Pastor David to the hospital staff, as I accompanied my friends through the affair of being admitted to the ER, getting an IV and all the rest. When we weren’t talking to nurses, and doctors, and social workers, we were talking about this or that, some of it “spiritual” stuff, and much of it not, though in reality, all of it being very much linked to the spiritual stuff. For the sake of privacy I won’t say more, but suffice it to say that this was the most pastoral I have ever been.

My reaction… hmm. By which I mean that in the past, even with doing this internship and all, it's kind of like I only play a pastor on TV, it's not really real. Today it was real. There was a sense in which I loved it, and there was a sense in which it gave me great hesitation. Why? That's an intricate thing I'm not sure I have wholly wrapped my own head around, but I think it has something to do with this, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." And this, "Do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven."


Anonymous said...

I think you hit the nail on the head at the end of your post...not many of you should presume to be teachers...for you shall be judged more strictly.

Having said this, Your ability and desire for pastoring is a gift from the Lord (Ecclesiates). Ask Him for wisdom, guard your heart from the power trip that comes with a title and you shall do well.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy for this couple to have you and Joey as a source of strength. I have seen your patience and willingness to give of your time with them. Both of you will be blessed for it. I have also learned a lot from them myself. It is good that you recognize both the dangers and thrills of working for the Lord. It will serve you well.

God Bless

Bill said...

I recall the first few weeks I put my robe on to go lead worship in my first call in Tokyo. I felt like I was pretending. Does anyone know that this is just me putting the robe on?

It is interesting to see how we process identity. After eight years, the robe doesn't offer me much pause. The title, either. It is interesting. Rather than becoming more natural, I feel as though I have come to recognize how little my title and my robe are capable of accomplishing. Where they once were daunting to me, now they seem inneffectual. I have to live the role, because I realize these are not going to do the task of setting me apart as a pastor.

Thanks for your reflections. It's exciting to remember what that transition felt like.

wennejunk said...


I teach for a living and have experienced what you described many times.

From my perspective, there are three distinct contributing components to what we experience, each in varying measures:

1. Pride. Not sinful pride, but that which comes with accomplishment due to effort in a worthy cause. You contributed your talents and skills and applied your training and made a difference. The good part of being human.
2. Pride. The other kind. The I did it, kind. 'Nuff said on that. we're humans and this comes with the territory.
3. Vocation. You're in Seminary because you were called. Presumably. Otherwise, Stop, Drop and Roll and find a new career. We have more than enough folks in clergy who are there for the wrong reasons. However, I think your vocation is serving the Lord in the way you have chosen. When we actively participate in our true vocation, we come closer to the Lord because we are working in concert with his Holy Spirit. That feels...Good. Its called Joy. Congratulations!


David Best said...

thanks for the tips and comments guys!