I Do Not Want to be Called a Preacher or even Pastor

Over forty years ago I deeply believed, felt, agonized over, and finally said, “yes” to the “call” to ministry. I tried not to follow this “calling” for a few years but eventually, I was persuaded (at least I believe I was) by the Lord to follow this path in life. I began a path of education that would include learning the languages the Bible had been written in, learning the theologies, philosophies, and catechisms of the denominations I was affiliated with. I studied how to help people through acts of “ministry” and encouraged them to seek out the expections I believed God had for them as disciples (followers) of Jesus.

The culture of Christianity has radically changed in the past forty years. I watched as the office of pastor changed from that of a trusted position of caring into a profitable “second career for some, a means of meeting ego needs for others, and a place for all kinds of liars, sociopaths, frauds, political hacks, and mental patients to work. I have watched churches allow this to happen and even encourage and empower behavior that is far from the teachings of Jesus.

I am retired, not. If one is called one cannot retire from a true calling. One can be blocked, ignored, discounted, and not “employed”, but the calling of God remains (one of the deep pains I must daily live with at the unemployable age of 67). I know, even when God is silent, that this was my purpose in life.

However, I do not want to be called a preacher or even a pastor because of the derision and depravity that has now been linked to such titles. The enemy has done its demonic work well.

I watched individuals in the last denomination I served work to try and outdo one another in order to get a better-paying church/position. I watched lazy, unethical individuals use the position to promote people like donald trump ( I will not dignify that moniker with capital letters) as the savior of conservative Christianity. I watched them promote anti-vaccination myths, fight against most things related to social justice, and promote a different kind of gospel rather than the Good News of the kingdom of God. So please do not call me by the title they claim. I want no part of it.

Take Two Bibles and Call Me in the Morning

“Can there be a more fitting pursuit in youth or a more valuable possession in old age than a knowledge of Holy Scripture? In the midst of storms it will preserve you from the dangers of shipwreck and guide you to the shore of an enchanting paradise and the ever-lasting bliss of the angels.”

St. Boniface

The above quote reminded me (or better yet brought me to a state of contrition) how important it is to continually read the Scripture when in a state of long-term desolation. This is a basic truth that the enemy usually tries to get us to cease engaging in during the beginnings of its attack on us.

The Psalmist states in Psalm 119:11, I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you. (Ps. 119:11 NRS). The problem for me is that no matter how much I read the Scripture, study the Scripture, and pray the Scripture, I still sin. I likely sin less, but I still sin.

The Scripture does give me spiritual strength. It does give brief reprieve from the suffering that comes with desolation. It does give me a least a sliver of hope that provides a short-term sense of calm and peace. It is not a magic book that can take away all my troubles, sorrow, and pain. Too many people  try and use the Bible in this manner. You will be disappointed if you do.

I am not the Psalmist. What give him peace may not give me peace. What provides direction for him might be confusion to me. Still, the prayers of the Psalms and the reading of Scripture is by far a better choice of help than anything the world offers.