I recently wrote a blog pondering what ways the pastor is and is not a professional. My blog was responded to by a blog of my good friend Dan Turis. Dan said that he disagreed with me and then proceeded to write a blog that I agree with. I think where Dan and I ultimately disagree is about the danger of professionalism.
Dan seems to be worried that pastors are not being professional enough. They are seeing their jobs as less important than the work of people like doctors, lawyers, or business executives. There certainly seems to be a decline in the public opinion of pastors.
I think Dan is right to be worried about that. I have seen too many pastors trying to be cool. Pastors need to have and show more respect for their vocation if others will follow.
But I am more concerned in the other direction. The more prevalent problem today is that pastors have hidden behind their professionalism. The can lead an organization and play a role instead of caring for people or tending to their own sanctification. They can become proud and use their pulpits and their parishioners to fill their own ego. They can build vision statements and do organizational development instead of living God’s Kingdom in this world. They separate themselves from the care of people and from truly listening to God.
Dan says, “Simply put being professional and “having a heart for God and his ministry,” are not exclusive. They are one in the same.” They should be, but sometimes pastors get out of balance and ministry becomes either/or instead of both/and.