I don’t have a long time to write a blog today so I want to get straight to the point: pastors, what you see as an interruption is actually the ministry God has for you right in front of your eyes. I know myself pretty well by now ( I mean it has been almost 28 years), and I know I am a sinner who messes up my priorities on a daily basis. I am tempted to do what is comfortable for the time, or I’m tempted to do what I’m very good at, or I’m tempted to do what I’m passionate about; but let me suggest something for us as pastors and that is that we need to learn to love opportunities to be interrupted.
Just a few moments ago, I met with a lady in my office, along with my intern named Erik. This lady came into the church as a walk-in wanting to talk to a pastor about an issue she is sorting through in her life. If we are honest with ourselves then we know that sometimes as pastors we can get a bit frustrated by people or situations which throw our schedules and ministry plans for the day completely off track! I mean after all we have sermons to write! We have visitations we could go do! We have conversations that need to be had, phone calls to make, emails to be sent, our own personal issues to deal with, books to be read, or whatever it is that is on your docket for the day. Why would we stop everything else just to meet with one person who has interrupted what we planned on doing?
The reason why we should stop and care for who or what interrupts our regularly scheduled program is because we are called to be like Christ who is the “Good shepherd of the sheep,” and we are thus pastors, or “under-shepherds” who are called to be like the Good Shepherd. We are called to humbly serve Christ by loving His flock, and those who are entrusted to our care, and so that means when one sheep goes running off a hill we chase after it, when one sheep requires immediate attention we gauge whether or not that sheep truly needs immediate care and if we determine that he or she does then we stop and care for him or her. To put it quite plainly, as pastors we are called to love our God above all else, and then to love His people in our local congregation, and our neighbors who aren’t even members of the congregation we lead. Some pastors wrongly understand their calling to be mostly CEO-like, managerial, or governmental, but such understandings are cultural rather than biblical. If we allow the Bible to guide our ministries then we will come to realize our ministries are personal, and thus what some might see as an “interruption” is actually a person for us to minister to. As my friend, and a man I look up to likes to say, “The interruption is the ministry”– Scott Kennedy.
We shouldn’t lament the fact that the interruption is the ministry we should actually embrace it. We should learn to love the opportunity to do as Christ did by leaving earth and taking on human flesh, and being in human form he considered himself obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. If we are prideful pastors then we will cling to our schedules, our disciplines, and our own desires for how a day should look. I’m not suggesting discipline, wants, or orderly schedules with time set aside for preaching preparation and study are NOT important, but what I am suggesting is that there is/are exceptions that will regularly be interspersed throughout our planned schedules, our daily disciplines, and things we want to do. When these exceptions occur we should learn to embrace them as opportunities for us to grow in Godliness, and to grow as pastors. Not to mention, as you spend time with your congregation when they need you most then you will have solidarity with them in your preaching, and your loving your congregation in this way will actually lead you to be loving in the way you preach. Now, I know this might all seem like mumbo-jumbo to some who have not yet entered into pastoral ministry, but I would suggest there are some things you just have to learn from following Christ in the context of pastoral ministry because I can assure you I didn’t learn this particular lesson from bible school or seminary. I’ve learned many things in my 5 and a half years of full-time ministry, but one lesson I’m certainly learning is this one: The interruption Is the ministry.