a big deal

{Disclaimer: With apologies in advance to anyone who isn’t Lutheran. Or doesn’t like pastors. Or who just plain hates life in general.}

I’m a big fan of faithful Lutheran pastors. I think they’re kind of a big deal. And if we’re really being honest, I kind of wish the world had more of them.

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2010 Convention: Pastoring It Up, BBQ Style

And that’s saying something, because I went to seminary with a pile of them. I saw them in their pre-pastor stage, the awkward time when they wore white socks with black pants and tried to ask girls out and attempted to outdo their classmates in ways that were painful to watch.

And when I say “painful,” I mean getting my eyes gouged out Samson-style would have been a relief in a few cases.

And yet somehow, by God’s grace, and by the time coursework was finished and diplomas were awarded, they had matured into exceedingly bright, articulate, resoundingly faithful men. Gideons, every one of them.

They got to that point, of course, because they sat at the feet of other Lutheran pastors: their professors, who simply love to teach the faith and who do so patiently, and parish pastors who didn’t stop learning when seminary was over and calls were extended, but who kept reading, kept translating, kept digging.

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Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana; AKA home; photo courtesy Steve Blakey

Those are the kinds of pastors I want to hang out with, the kind who slap you on your confirmation day (Yeah, I’m never letting that one go.); the kind whose laughs are so big they shake the house; the kind who use phrases like “Puke” and “Double puke” to articulate their opinions; the kind who call you all the way from the West Coast just to check in; the kind who endure and care for their flocks despite an inexplicable pain they are experiencing themselves; the kind who are happy to answer goofy, piddly little theological questions, even when they’re trying to hammer out a sermon; the kind who give you big hugs on Sunday; the kind who poke their heads into your office, crack a straight-faced one-liner and leave; the kind that are patient while you’re trying to figure life out; the kind who keep pointing you back to Jesus again and again and again.

And I take great joy in watching my classmates grow and morph into these same kinds of pastors, the kind that now know what color socks to wear, and who are happily married with children, and who can laugh off theological debates over a scotch and cigar.

I’m a big fan of Lutheran pastors. I kind of think they’re a big deal and that the world needs more of them, and if you’ve read this far, something tells me . . . you do too.

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6 thoughts on “a big deal

  1. Wait, you got slapped on your confirmation day? My husband has become good friends with the pastor who confirmed you…I HAVE to get that story! 🙂

  2. I’ve known many pastors, and when I say that the opporitive term is “known”. Each one was as different as night and day, all good men- just as you described. But unless I was able to get to “Know” them, it would not have been the result. Too many parishners don’t get to know their servants- and thats a shame. Good article.

  3. I have know FAR more interim pastors than I’ve known called and permanent pastors. I’ve seen more pastors leave churches for other calls, and I’ve experienced one pastor be kicked out of his congregation for considerable incompetence and not caring for his flock…my experience with pastors are that I’ve grown in the faith under interims. I wish I knew more of these pastors you’re talking about. Maybe – just MAYBE – I’d like to see pastors that could be cemented to their congregation for 20 years, pastors that love all members, youth and adults, pastors who don’t just have one gift of EITHER preaching a good sermon or being good with and loving other people, but actually being capable of both tasks! I loved this post and I know my share of good pastors, but I’ve not had the privilege of being under many of them in my 27+ years on this earth…my prayer is that true pastors find their way to the Sem while those others who seem to end up there, might simply instead choose to ignore that stomach trouble they misinterpret as a “call.”

    • Interim pastors are no less pastors than the permanent pastor … though I do find the idea of a “call with an specific end date” a bit troubling … but this is NOT a reflection on any specific person.

      One should be just as thankful for a pastor who “leave churches for other calls” as one is thankful for a pastor “cemented to their congregation for 20 years.” While there can be exceptions, the pastors tenure at a congregation should rightly be in response to the will of the Lord of the Church … and not earthly desire to remain or leave a particular location.

      While not questioning a long tenured pastor (I have been blessed with one in my life), the danger in a long tenure is that some can become attached to a pastor’s personality rather than the teachings and confessions the pastor is bound by God to deliver to the saints entrusted to his care.

      May we all be blessed with faithful pastors who preach and teach the Word and Will of God and the will and wants of sinful humans.

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