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Are You A "Super" Pastor?
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who
Good News, who proclaim good tidings, who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'" Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)
- Are Pastors "Super" Christians?
- No, indeed we are not. We are simply sinful human beings subject to frailty, temptation,
disappointment and failure. The urges of the flesh can overtake us...and they do. And just
when we think that we've overcome temptation over our vices, we succumb to subjugation by
our virtues. In this sense we are not "super" Christians. Indeed, in this manner
we are no different than our hearers.
- Sometimes I wonder whether those who deem themselves "super" Christians do the
greatest disservice to the Office of the Ministry. Whether lay or clergy, super Christians
have one thing in common: a rejection of the fundamental essence of Christianity, i.e.
God's unmerited and undeserved grace. Consequently, they believe that what they are is not
entirely because of God's calling of grace--but because of their own "super"
- Every "super" Christian is a distinct danger to the Church of Jesus Christ, to
the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and, indeed, to Jesus Christ Himself.
Whether Pastor or parishioner, such individuals subordinate Jesus Christ, His message, and
those who are properly called to their own whims, impulses and desires.
- Pastors: Merely Super Sinners!
- Pastors are not super Christians. Like St. Paul, we are simply "chief of all
sinners." We share in the same sinfulness and contamination of our human nature as
everyone else. We are, of all God's people, likely the ones who are most aware of our
sinful nature. More often than we care to admit, what we habitually want to do we
habitually do not do.
- We are acutely aware of the battle against Satan that rages within our hearts, minds and
souls. We are also painfully and personally aware that when God gave ordained pastors
their calling to the highest Office in the Church, the Office of the Ministry, He gave
this calling to simple earthen vessels--weak, fragile, and apt to be broken--like us.
- To balance the awareness of the pastor's essential frailty, the pastor's other greatest
awareness must be the awareness of the comprehensiveness of God's gracious, undeserved
- Whenever we do what we do not want to do,
- Whenever we are scarred and beaten in the battle of our hearts and our churches, and
- Whenever the earthen vessel into which God has poured the calling to the ministry begins
to break in the most painful ways possible.
- First Things...Forgotten
- When all else fails and the world around us crumbles, the only thing we really have
left is what we sometimes forget first: the connectedness which God has made with
us through Word and Sacrament. This grace-connectedness affirms that though we are
sinners, we are also saints. As the Luther said, we are simul iustus et peccator,
i.e. at the same time saints and sinners, enfolded in grace but still enshrouded in sin.
- What Is A Super Pastor Really?
- When all is said and done, the "super" pastor is not necessarily the one with
the largest church, the most vibrant program, the largest Bible Class, budget or building
program.. Nor is the "super" pastor necessarily the one with the most impressive
resume, the most conversions, etc.
- Pastoral resumes are made and undone...daily. Pastoral achievements are
joyously realized and painfully lost...daily. Churches grow and decline....daily.
People join one church, only to quit to join another one...daily...sometimes in
droves...from your church!!
- If pastors or congregations use these worldly things to describe the
"super" pastor, they must be forewarned that this foundation is woefully
tentative, temporal, and uncertain. If such things as these are your definition of
successful ministry all one can say is, "Watch Out!" At best this definition is
not healthy. At worst it's crassly unspiritual and contrary to God's will for both pastor
- When such criteria are consciously or unconsciously used as your motivation and standard
for ministry--even if you only use it to the most miniscule, subtle and covert degree
possible--you are setting yourself up as a bulls eye on Satan's target for your soul. A
word to the wise: change the motivation for your ministry yourself. Either you
change it or God will change it for you.
- Either way will be painful. But either way, God will be with you. As He transforms the
inner motivation for your ministry from an external law-driven-ness to an inner
Gospel-motivation, the result will be an unshakable joy of ministry not rooted are in
those things which can discourage and destroy us.
- Look At The Super Pastor's Feet!
- What is a "super" pastor? Simply one who, in spite of the conflict,
disappointment, frustration and anger--and the accolades, praise and success--never, ever
loses sight of the most important thing: a vital connectedness with God. This
connectedness is based in the certainty that in spite of the fragile weakness of this
earthen vessel which we call "Pastor," God has nevertheless promised and
commanded to bear His Word through it.
- Whatever the condition of "super" pastor--broken or unbroken, celebrated or
collapsed--and whatever the condition of the church--growing or dying, unified or
schizoid, enthusiastic or disheartened--the affirmation of God's calling remains. Isaiah
wrote, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good tidings..." (Isaiah
- That is what makes any pastor a "super" pastor. Beautiful feet. No matter
where God leads those feet, and no matter what they experience, those feet remain beautiful
because they singular mark of a "super" pastor: they proclaim the Gospel.
No matter what the circumstances, in season or out, the "super" pastor continues
to preach the Word wherever God leads those awesome, beautiful feet.
- In spite of the opposition, the lack of response, and the antagonism, the
"super" pastor persists in ministry, perseveres in trial
and, even when weak from resistance, still preaches and teaches the beautiful, confident
hope of salvation, peace and forgiveness in Christ.
- Are You A "Super" Pastor?
- Are you a "super" pastor? It's easy to tell if you are. Don't look
around you. Don't look at your church. Don't look at your leaders. Don't look at your
antagonists. Don't look at your church's problems or successes. Don't even look at
yourself in the mirror.
- Just look at your feet...those beautiful, beautiful feet! Do they still lead you where
God has called you to preach...regardless of the response? Do they still bear the Gospel
fearlessly, persistently and in the confidence of the Spirit's power?
- Ah, yes! Look at those feet--your feet--those beautiful, beautiful Gospel-bearing feet!
Follow them where God leads them and proclaim to your hearers the message God has given to
you, "Your God reigns!" After all, He does, doesn't He? Indeed, He does!!!
- Thomas F. Fischer
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was revised on:
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:04:07 PM