Iâ€™ve never really been one for titles, partly because Jesus said not to go for them, and partly because thatâ€™s who I am really. Iâ€™m not about separating us into different levels because of our titles for one another.
Some people call me Pastor or Pastor Randall out of deference, and I understand that and why they may do that and Iâ€™m usually quick to encourage them to call me by my first name. Other people instruct their children to call me Pastor Randall and I understand that because they are trying to teach their kids how to show respect to those older than themselves. I respect that and I just go with it, no problem.
But there is another use of the title Pastor that is different.
I have a friend and fellow pastor who has become quite accomplished in the Evangelical Covenant circles we run in. He and I have worked together on occasion and in fact we've taken a couple of the same classes together.
At some point in his life there were some changes going on and we talked about them. That led to some discernment things that we talked through and it was an amazing privilege to just walk with him and listen as he discerned how he felt God was leading him.
These opportunities to meet and talk and pray continued occasionally, as we only met each other a few times a year. But at some point along the journey, he began to call me Pastor.
He began to call me by the name of the gift I brought to him.
This was very interesting to me and caught me by surprise. But I understood it. He didn't need another friend. He didn't require a preacher, a doctor, a politician. He needed a pastor. And I brought that gift to him.
This is not an easy thing for today's Everyman to admit, that they need pastoring, shepherding. And it's always struck me as interesting.
You see, some people want a pastor, but they don't want to be pastored. The one requires little vulnerability while the other is quite vulnerable. Some people will never allow another to care for them as a pastor should or could, simply because it requires a level of vulnerability that they just never could be open to.
Some people allow me to shepherd them while others don't. Some people take years to build up the trust required to let another care for them. While others just can't risk it.
There are people who grant me access to their hearts and have ears to hear when there is something that needs to be said. Others don't want to hear what they don't want to hear. Walls are built up, even before I come across their path, and those walls are designed to keep out people and God.
This vulnerability of entrusting another human being with the core of who we are is so profound, it can actually help change who we are deep inside. It can be very healing if the experience is good or so damaging if the trusted one proves to lack integrity.
Submission to one another is a powerful approach to life and it allows us to face who we are, through another's eyes. If we are willing to live in that level of vulnerability, we can receive the gifts God brings to us, through others, which for us can mean healthier ways to live, closer connections to God and people, and just a good life.
More and more that is what I think I bring to the party. The gifts and resources of a pastor. And for those of you who easily get that word confused with that of CEO or COO, by pastor I mean Shepherd. Listener, discern-er, pray-er, caregiver, watchman.
So I guess I too am being changed by a certain vulnerability to others as they speak into my life and I listen and have ears to hear.
One of my prayers for you is that you too have a "Pastor" in your life who you can trust and be vulnerable with. No, they don't have to pastor a church or be formally trained to be a "pastor." But someone you can trust with your insides, who will pray for you and watch out for you and say the tough things that need to be said once and a while.
A pastor in that sense of the word will help your life change for the better more than the self help books and Anthony Robbins types out there.
Not just for Sunday mornings any more.