By Rev. George F. Borghardt
There’s really nothing too cool about him. Geeky would be more like it. Your pastor is probably geeky. You can tell by all the books. Did he really read them all in seminary, or does he just keep them around to look smart?
He has no sense of style. Yes, the black shows that he is a sinner and the white on his neck says that he speaks the Word of Gospel. But the same outfit every day? And when he doesn’t wear his “uniform,”a he looks like he’s stuck in some past decade. Stonewashed jeans? No one wears tube socks any more, Pastor. That’s so 1990s!
He talks funny and observes all of these strange customs, doesn’t he? I had never eaten a brat or seen a real live cheesehead before my pastor was called to Louisiana. Wisconsin? That’s, like, next to Canada! How did anyone from so far north end up so far south?
The Lord Jesus. He did it. The Lord called your pastor to your church. He called my pastor to our church back in Louisiana. He called me from Louisiana to Illinois. Jesus calls pastors to go all over the place to forgive and retain sins, and to preach repentance unto the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name.
“Pastor” is the Latin word for “shepherd.” That’s what your pastor is: He is a shepherd. He tends to sheep. He feeds the Lord’s sheep and takes care of you with the Word and Sacraments.
That’s why it so often sounds like your pastor is preaching directly to you! He doesn’t have a camera in your house. He knows just the right thing to say because when he preaches the Word, Christ is speaking to you (Luke 10:16). When he teaches you, Christ is teaching you. Christ is retaining your evil. Christ is forgiving your sins. Christ is saving you.
Your pastor is not Christ. He’s the Lord’s servant, Christ’s ambassador, pleading with you over and over again to be reconciled to God. He represents Christ to you. The respect and love you show the pastors around you is the respect you have for Jesus. Be kind to them and you are being kind to the Lord who sent them. Reject them, make their life hard, be burdensome to them and you are being burdensome to the Lord who called them to you.
There’s nothing inherently special about your pastor. He’s not a rock star. He is a regular person. He eats. He sleeps. He might even snore at the lock-in. He gets grumpy at times. Actually, some pastors are grumpy all the time!
But he would be a great person to treat like a rock star, for you can have no better father-figure, no better friend who will never fail you, no better person to vent to than your pastor. All of that is in the job description of “shepherd.”
Everything your pastor does, from the time he wakes up until he goes to sleep, is to deliver Jesus Christ and Him crucified to you. You see Christ’s life in his life as he teaches, visits shut-ins and the sick, and hangs out with the youth. It’s all about Jesus and loving others.
Yes, your pastor’s going to call you out for your sins. You aren’t always right. Other people aren’t always wrong. Sometimes, it’s your fault. If you are honest with God, it’s almost always your sin.
He’s going to say one other word of God to you. “In the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins.” All your sins are forgiven!
He’s definitely strange. He’s not well dressed. He’s most likely an actual geek. He might even have an accent and not talk right. But, the Lord called him to where you are to be your pastor. He’s the Lord’s shepherd for you.
Having a pastor to look up to is better than having a friend. It’s better than having a BFF or “bestie” or a mentor. Your pastor is there to give you Jesus’ salvation that will last forever. He’s there to give you Jesus. He’s there to be your shepherd—your pastor.
Rev. George F. Borghardt is the president of Higher Things and serves as the senior pastor at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in McHenry, Illinois.