Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pastor

I have been thinking a lot lately about pastoral identity. How do you present as a pastor, if you are one?   Or, how do you view your pastor?

For example, I had this great conversation with my former colleague at dinner last week.  He has a priestly sort of pastoral identity.   What I mean is that he really sees The Pastor as a conduit to connecting to God.  He just happens to be the one filling that The Pastor role. Well, not any more, but he will fill that role as The Pastor somewhere else.   We talked about how he insisted that his office not be called Joe's Office (psuedonym) but rather The Pastor's Office.    He really did this well, filling The Pastor identity role.   It gave me so much insight into our past four years together.  It was like a light bulb went off in my head.  Yes--and my colleague is a gifted pastor and leader.  It was difficult at times, but over all , good.

On the other hand, I think of myself as a pastor...I suppose that is because I am currently an associate pastor, but when I think back on 11 years of ministry, it is always how I have approached my calls.   As a pastor I am a part of my congregation, but with a different call and role in it.   I have to have certain boundaries, because I am bound to confidentiality.  However, I think of my office, as well, my office.  Karla's office.   When I preach, I am very personal about my own journey--a traveler alongside of, maybe at times in different places.  I focus on faith and spirituality so I can share what I have learned with my congregants.   I know there is a certain sense of authority I embody, but that is because I am charged with certain ministries and tasks over which I have authority....I don't think I am articulating this all that well.    But I think, that when I am in my own congregation, I will still think of  myself as a pastor in the congregation, maybe even the pastor of the congregation, but not The Pastor.

What about you?  


  1. I'm a priest who thinks of herself as a pastor, another member of the congregation, but not quite, because they can all be friends but I am limited by my role as one who can be friendly, but those who I really share my deepest self with are not parishioners. Still, I do share pieces of my self and life with them, in as authentic a way as I can.

  2. The Scientist and I have noticed, looking back on events of the past couple of years, that one of our roles in our church seems to be to encourage the pastors (mostly by treating them as normal human beings). I think that being a pastor can surely be a lonely life at times. Maybe because I don't have a highly liturgical or high-church background (and maybe because I have so many friends who are pastors, and a seminary background myself), I honor and respect the pastor's role as the leader and head teacher of the congregation, but I don't feel awe or like I can't be myself around our pastors. We just try to show love and support, and a word in season.

  3. yes, Terri....we are on the same page. My colleague used to be a Catholic priest, so I think this is where his theology comes from......