One of the things I'm reflecting on while on sabbatical is pastoral identity. Namely, "What is a pastor?" I read the following recently, from Brian Croft. Helpful. Sobering.
...this is a most helpful question to be asked and consider. Not just for [the church], but for all those who claim to be a pastor. With all the demands and expectations upon a pastor’s life and ministry, it becomes a temptation for a pastor to lose his identity in the midst of them. Are we simply to visit them, make small talk, spend time with them, and move on with our day? What makes a pastor different from others that may spend time with the people of the church and invest in them?
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones draws clear distinctions with these words:
A pastor is a man who is given charge of souls. He is not merely a nice, pleasant man who visits people and has an afternoon cup of tea with them, or passes the time of day with them. He is the guardian, the custodian, the protector, the organizer, the director, the ruler of the flock.
Pastors, as you process all the comments, conversations, and even confusing signals from your people...do not lose sight of your task before God. Your identity is not in crisis. You are a man given charge over souls. This week, spend time with your people, be pleasant, even have tea with your people, but do so not as the friendly neighbor, but as the guardian of their souls.