Monday, April 25, 2016

Why I Am No Longer a Pastor

Why I am no longer a pastor has been on my mind lately. I have never doubted that God called me to preach in 1972. The calling has been the anchor that has held me through thick and thin. I left the pastoral ministry in 2006. I've done many things over the last ten years. Two of the years I was unemployed. For four years I worked as a Hospice Chaplain. Two years I served as an associate minister at a large membership church. One year I was a transit driver/courier and the other year I wrote three books and spent time teaching in Zambia. Ten years ago I left the ministry of being a pastor of a church but I didn't leave my calling as a minister. In many ways I may have been more effective since removing the title of pastor.

There are three reasons why I left. 1. I felt I was not the role-model that I needed to be. A pastor is human, but congregations expect pastors to be on a different level. I understand this but I relate to what Isaiah said, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

I knew God is holy and I was not. I have personally known dozens of pastors who say one thing in the pulpit and something else when they are not around their members. I did not want to be a hypocrite. I knew my heart and I did not want to be a stumbling block for any member of my congregation.

2. I was not happy or at peace. Life is too short to be miserable! Man-made rules can sap a pastor's creativity and joy. I regret that I didn't make the shift when I was younger. At age 56, I shifted.

3. The organized Church is not relevant in our culture. It is an old wine skin without flexibility. A paradigm shift will not be enough to become relevant; it will take a shift from Church to Kingdom thinking. I knew that I could no longer give myself to something so out of touch with reality.

My present sphere of ministry is companioning the dying through Hospice care. Everyday is different than the one before. I have the privilege of being with people facing death and eternity. I have not left my calling to preach. I am preaching in a different way now. I love this saying, When we minister to the sick, who heals who? I recognize that I am truly a wounded healer sent by the Lord.