The Secret of Ministry

There is one fact of ministry that cannot be emphasized enough.

We talk about the long hours pastors work, and the tendency for burnout. We talk about how congregations and pastors can work together better. We talk about educational requirements, and skills.

But there is the one fact that matters most. One fact that we don't talk about enough, and which not enough people realize: We (pastors) love you.

Every pastor I know deeply loves the people he or she has been called to serve and deeply loves the church. Deeply. We don't do this work because of the pay; we don't do it because of the "prestige" or "authority" of the pastoral office; we don't do it because we think it is holier than other work.

We do it because we love the people we serve and we love the church. Whether a senior pastor or an associate, whether a rector or a bishop, whether a chaplain or a preacher, everyone who is in ministry is in it because we love the people. (See my advice for new pastors).

This week, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton was elected as the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA; which means that the Rev. Mark Hanson will no longer be serving in that role. Bishops in particular are subjected to a scrutiny and a second guessing of their motives. What agenda are they pushing? What is the real reason they make certain decisions?

This picture, taken by Brett Nelson in the evening after that election, sums up the truth of the matter: like all other pastors, our leaders love the people whom they serve and they love the church. I think every pastor has had this moment.

Thank you, Bishop Hanson, for loving the people.

Photo by Brett Nelson, used with permission.