Friday, June 6, 2008

Kicking Tail and Holding Hands

I was reading my SOAP passage the other day, which was 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
Verse 11 makes me wonder what the rest of the family thought was wrong with David. Was he that much younger than the next youngest brother? Was he some annoying, immature kid or something? Why did he get ignored like that?

Of course, verse 7 is a 'famous' verse and it provoked some serious reflection. Here's the Application part of that day's journal entry:
"Lord, do you see that in me? I can get so focused on cultivating the outside and I forget my heart. A sermon isn't about my great info or delivery, it's about the Spirit working through me. Counseling, discipling isn't about my wisdom but God's. I don't have to be cool, attractive, cutting edge to be used by God, I have to have a heart that's wiling and obedient."

The other idea that jumped out to me is found in verse 4 and 5. "So Samuel did as the LORD instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. "What's wrong?" they asked. "Do you come in peace?" "Yes," Samuel replied. "I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.' Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too."

I've got this funny picture of David's family freaking out when they see Samuel approaching. "Crap, what did we do wrong, what's Samuel going to do." But rather than being there to bust heads (which Samuel did plenty of) he was there to sacrifice (pray with them) and give them the great news that a king would be anointed among their family.

Samuel was the main priest and prophet of the people of Israel. The priest prays with them, sacrifices animals on their behalf. The prophet gets in their face and even punishes disobedience when necessary.

As a pastor, I have the exact same two roles and it's difficult to find the balance. Sometimes I show up to hold hands with a family, comforting them and praying for them. Sometimes I need to kick tail and confront some sort of disobedience. I often do both while leading worship on a Sunday morning. Praying with and/or comforting a family is a great privilege. It's a strange but incredible honor to show up somewhere and inspire hope with simply my physical presence (which represents the presence of God). I like that part, I like to be liked and appreciated.

But just as important is when I have to confront sin with the guts of a prophet (notice all the prophets in the Old Testament got killed). No one likes to be confronted and the normal first response is to want to shoot the messenger rather than considering the truth found in the message (I never say things exactly right and after calming down, most people think through what I've shared). To read my thoughts on the issues God has called me to address and the feedback I often get, click here.

I like to be liked. I enjoy the priestly role (although it overwhelms me at times) and thinking about the prophet role causes me to break out in a cold sweat.

Pastoring is not for the faint of heart!

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