Dear people of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lookout Mountain,
When my father told me that our Pastor Kevin Skogen was no longer going to be pastor at RP my mind and spirit were at once (not worried but) concerned and interested in 1) The reason(s) for his departure and 2) what the people of RP would do now in response to his departure. And as my mind considered the first to be of importance I came to think that the second was of more importance. Thus I set my mind and spirit to work in regards to this latter concern and found that I wanted to write to you some of the ideas that have been stirring in me as of late. I say my mind and spirit because the mind would be as a ship lost at sea if it were not for a spirit to guide it, and the spirit in turn would be a meaningless waist were it not for a ship to focus it’s devotion upon. And yet it seems to me that both mind and spirit are of the utmost importance and neither can hold a place above the other. I believe God has given us both a Mind and a Spirit to praise Him with and that in Christ Jesus we find this balance lived out to perfection. And of course you would not disagree with me when I say that Christ is ultimately our Shepherd. But even though He is our Shepherd we seek one for our particular church as perhaps an example of what Christ is for us in Heaven. Therefore what qualities do we seek in a man? And what kind of man might be a worthy candidate to lead us as Christ would?
It seems to me commonsensical that we would want a man who is:
Law abiding– It would be unwise for our pastor to have a warrant out for his arrest.
Covenant keeping– We, of course, want our pastor to show up every Sunday.
Financially responsible– A man of God should be prudent with his money.
A good father– Well behaved children are a sign of good guidance.
A strong husband– Marriage is the cornerstone of a community.
People Oriented– Counseling is a very important Pastoral Duty.
Able to speak in front of large groups– We want someone who speaks clearly and confidently.
Educated/Ordained– We don’t want some hick who is ignorant of the inherent subtleties of the Greek language present in the New Testament.
This seems like a good basic list of what we want in a pastor, of course there are other matters which include certain theological views and convictions, but believing that the rapture will come before Christ cannot be as important as being a good father. And so barring those other matters for another discussion I began to consider this list…this criteria…this touchstone. And I began to question whether or not this was a good criteria to judge a pastor by. Of course this list is incomplete and there are other important characteristics that many of you may think to add to my list, but as I focused on my list I realized that the things that made up the list were not necessarily correspondent with the people God chose to deal with in the Bible. Adam blamed God for giving him Eve. Abraham lied about who his wife was to save his own life. Moses needed Aaron to speak for him. Saul tried to kill David! David killed a man to have that man’s wife. Paul called himself the chief of sinners. And yet these are the men we are to learn from and respect. They all fall short of Christ and yet they were chosen to guide…to shepherd…to pastor the people of God.
But why? What was it about these men that set them apart from the rest? It surely was not because of the list I have written above; these men failed horribly, as do we all. The answer is found (of course) in Christ. But was Christ Law abiding? Did he not stir up people and disturb the peace with his words and actions? Was Christ Covenant keeping? Was he not accused of breaking the Sabbath by allowing his disciples to pick the heads of grain? Was Christ financially responsible when he said, “whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” And do we want our Pastor to teach us saying, “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.”? Christ was not married so why does our Pastor have to be married? Was Christ “people-oriented”? Was he not continually withdrawing to spend time alone and did he not say, “You faithless people. How long must I be with you?” And was Christ a good public Speaker even though everywhere he taught people misunderstood him and wanted to crown him king or stone him to death? No, Christ does not fulfill our criteria so why should our pastor? And so what Criteria should we have? The Criteria is found in Christ. Christ was continually seeking the Will of the Father even unto his death. And this is the same thing that is found in Adam, Abraham, Moses, Saul, David, and Paul; although they faltered at times they learned to seek God’s will. And this education they received from God spanned their entire lives and created in them a Heart for God…a Heart of Gold.
So how does one find a man with a Heart of Gold? Is that even what we should call it? Does it matter what nominal term we place upon it? Is it not the kind of thing that when witnessed is indelible? In truth, it cannot be found by the eyes nor instruments of man. The list above that commonsense provided me with is in fact important to some degree, but it is not perfect and what should be followed is not a list created by man but rather we should seek the Will of the Father. It is written on the heart of every man. And when we place our faith in that, then just as God provided Abraham with the ram, God will provide us with a pastor for our little church. In the mean time do we form a search party for a Pastor in a desperate attempt to keep the church together? Or do we continue in brotherly love and cling to Christ? Which is to say we ourselves continue to cultivate a Heart of Gold worthy of instruction.
Forgive me if this seems superfluous or incoherent or immature, I am sure my words reflect my age. But I wish to be a benefit to the church I am a member at; although at times I have my doubts.