The poll on pastoral skills showed a very clear pattern: the interpersonal skills rated in the top four while the more traditional roles were in the bottom four. Thus:
Interpersonal: discipling (25.9), authenticity (22.4), leading (16.1), and interpersonal (13.8).
Roles: preaching (12.1), teaching (7.5), administration (1.7), and evangelism (0.6).
What are the messages here?
First, that the readers of this blog who voted value the personal first of all and the role-specific behaviors of pastors second. Second, that readers here are probably not aware that a pastor, regardless of the importance of the interpersonal work, spends lots of time administrating and sometimes this dimension of his or her vocation overwhelms everything else. So, even if one values the personal, that does not translate into what pastors get to do. (And maybe you all know this, and that is why you are voting for the personal — because that is what you’d like to do or what you’d like to see your pastor doing more of.)
What surprised me the most is this: evangelism was rated so low. I’m not sure how to read this (maybe most of you see it as important but as derivative of authenticity or maybe you think the standard form associated with evangelism has got to go out the back door and the sooner the better). Frankly, I think evangelism should be higher on the list.
And, while preaching rated lower than I expected, pastors by and large don’t survive if they don’t preach well — it seems to me that it is one of the make or break issues for pastoring.
(And I’m happy to see how some of you read the above stats.)
This leads me to a series from Colossians 1:24-29 on the minister of the gospel, where I think lots of this is tied together.
I begin with this observation: the origin of ministering the gospel (and I’m using this as the catch-all vocation for pastoring knowing full well other terms could serve this purpose well) is God’s appointment.
1:25: I have become its servant by the commission God gave me.
1:25: the commission God gave me.
1:27: To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles…
God’s redemptive plan is God’s redemptive plan; he has chosen to set it into motion; and he uses ordinary humans — like you and me — to set that plan in motion.
How do we know this, how do we know if we are called by God? The wisdom of the ages has narrowed this down to three:
1. By internal conviction.
2. By the discernment of others whom we consider our counselors: church authorities.
3. By the response of God’s people.