Normally this post would contain humor. It would probably have a list of some sort about this or that before turning serious and highlighting a spiritual concept. That’s usually how I roll (or whatever the kids are saying these days). This isn’t one of my normal posts because the topic is something that recently impacted me and my family in a huge way.
Eight weeks ago I became a pastor without a place.
I didn’t expect to be in this position just a little over 3 and a half years after becoming the pastor of the church that I grew up in. The last 3 pastors before me had an average of about 10 years of ministry there. Why would it be any different for me?
Answer: God’s plans for us are not dependent on what His plans are for others. Just because God allowed others to have long pastorates there does not mean that He desired the same thing for me.
So after loving, leading, and praying for the members there with passion and persistence, I stepped down with the knowledge that doing so would cause me and my family sorrow and uncertainty. There is sorrow because of relationships that are altered and uncertainty because we do not know where we will end up or where we will be from week to week.
While I expected these two feelings to be present, there is another stronger feeling that I did not foresee–the feeling of a lost identity.
Preparing sermons used to take up a sizeable portion of my time. So did contacting visitors and checking on sick church members. So did encouraging those involved in performing the ministries of the church. So did telling people about the church and inviting them to worship with us. So did a lot of other things.
You get the picture. I gladly spent a lot of my life fulfilling the pastoral duties that God had called me to do. And then with one decision…
it was gone.
The actions that I had devoted so much of my time and energy doing were no longer a part of my life. There was a void there that disturbed me, that was difficult to overcome. It wasn’t until I realized something vitally important that I was able to move on.
I may be a pastor without a place, but I am not a pastor without a Savior.
Before I became a pastor of that particular church I was simply a man with a calling. That is what I still am. I do not need to be a pastor of a church to be a pastor to those I come into contact with at work, at home, on the internet, and in my community.
Before the church, before committee meetings, before programs and hospital visits and follow-up phone calls and all the other stuff of church life—-there was Jesus.
I believe that I will once again be a pastor of a church. Until then I will continue to use what I have been given to reach out with the Gospel, grace, and good works to honor the One who was, and is, and is to come.
May those of us who follow Jesus always remember that where we serve is not as important as who we serve.
Matt Cannon is a pastor but not one of those types of pastors. He doesn’t have all of the answers or nice hair. Being stodgy or stuffy is impossible for him. He doesn’t just talk about grace and love, he tries to live it out in his life. He blogs at The Seeking Pastor. He likes chicken and dumplings. And Rocky Road ice cream. And incomplete sentences.