What the heck do pastors do?
Sermons, right? That’s what they do. They sit around and think of sermons all day. Well, that is certainly a part of pastoral work, but there is more. In John Stott’s influential book on preaching, Between Two Worlds, he references Samuel Voldeba, who lectured at Calvin Theological Seminary here in Grand Rapids, MI. They were published after his death under the title, “The Pastoral Genius of Preaching.” They contain a simple yet wise explanation of the role of the pastor:
Pastors are to give nourishment to spiritually hungry people, people who are suffering from a lack of direction, a questioning of identity, a concern about eternity.
Pastors point the way toward the mission of God seen most clearly in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son. This is the implementation of the Kingdom of God – the tangible presence of God through the Spirit, given at Pentecost.
Pastors are to name the powers that be: myths of scarcity and meaninglessness, untruths regarding money and fame as the hallmarks of success, sexuality as power over others. Pastors name evil and seek to steer faithful people away from attractive yet insidious ends.
Pastors attend to the many wounds people suffer in the maelstrom of human existence. People do terrible things to one another, and pastors help introduce and re-introduce the reality of God’s healing work for all people.