I am humbled by the sheer number of replies I received from so many of my brothers in the ministry, either to the blogsite or privately. I’ve even had invitations to publish. None of this I expected when I posted this piece.
I feel compelled also to clarify a few things in light of a good conversation with a dear friend yesterday evening. Permit me to do so as an addendum.
- By “pastoral care,” I mean the traditional Lutheran seelsorger understanding, rooted in AC V and Word and Sacrament. The center of this pastoral care is the Divine Service, but extends to all Word-centered pastoral activities (catechesis, visitation, counseling, everything). The ultimate example may very well be Private Confession and Absolution, sadly lost in our modern context.
- I do not mean to suggest that any pastors who serve, for instance, in larger congregations do not, (because of the increased administrative burden), engage in pastoral care.
- From my vantage point in assisting call processes, I see that the use of the term “leadership” in church circles has no qualitative difference from the secular understanding of the term. Heb. 13:7 gives a Biblical understanding of the term (centered on pastors and their care), but I feel that the term’s usage in most places in the church is not necessarily congruent with this passage of Scripture.
- My point in the piece was not to dichotomize the terms “leadership” and “pastoral care,” but to prioritize the two terms, placing leadership as a subset of pastoral care.
- Yes, it is my opinion that in many cases this prioritization does not happen. This does not mean that the pastor doesn’t care (in an attitudinal sense). It may mean that he has placed a higher priority on leadership, a priority I question. I’ve also seen this do damage to congregations.
- Although there was some critique in the piece, I really do write from a perspective of having sinned in this area as much as anyone else. I feel Doxology got me back in touch with my own need for pastoral care and, I believe, all pastors need this to happen for them. On the understanding that I myself require the care of a brother pastor, it is only natural that I should feel that way for all people, including my brothers. I highly recommend attending Doxology for the sake of the enrichment of my brothers in the ministry and their people. It definitely opened my eyes to the truth about myself and the pressures I (we all) face in the ministry.
- Lastly, I have come to see over the years what a privilege it is merely to be counted as a pastor alongside the brothers I serve with in the LCMS. Regardless of our senseless politics at times, I have found more to admire in all of my brothers than to disregard. If you are a brother LCMS pastor, know that you have my admiration. I sometimes feel unworthy to be counted as part of this crowd.
Again, I was overwhelmed by the response of all the brothers. Blessings to you all. I count myself blessed to serve alongside you all. Together, we make each other better.
Sincerely in Christ,