Posted by: watchman | February 15, 2012

Reasons I Shouldn’t Pastor: Artificial Calling

A friend of mine wrote a very personal reflective post about the contradictions he perceives in people who rail against pastors who see their jobs as a jobs instead of callings. What he points out is that these people are actually paid professionals that tend to add to the system that they criticize.

Read the post here

So, what do you think of his thoughts and experiences? Have you ever though of the pastorate as a ‘profession,’ or do you maintain the label ‘calling’?

I think the difficulty in all this is  that the Church has no way of understanding ‘calling’ outside of a carnal professionalism that it regularly claims to avoid. In other words, someone feels like they should do more in the context of the local church and the church ships them off for professional training, certification, and job procurement. JUST LIKE ANY OTHER JOB. Whatever happened to this being more than just another job?

Sometimes, people are just called to make a difference. Sometimes people are called to care. Sometimes people are called to give hope to a hurting community. There are nuanced expressions for all those things within the local church and it is likely to be different for each person.

Yet, the Church has maintained a different approach. There are those who are called and they are the clergy. There are those who are not called and they are the laity. Theologically, this is pretty bogus and most people realize this. So, they say things like ‘No, no. Everybody is called to something, not just preachers. I may be called to preach. You may be called to clean toilets. But, it is all the same to Jesus.’

Yeah, right. The problem is that Jesus only writes one check and it doesn’t go to the poor sucker who is scraping the porcelain throne.

I was always wracked with guilt over this subject. Son’t get me wrong, I think I earned my checks. I worked hard and long hours. I made great sacrifices. Also, somebody had to do the stuff. So, I don’t have a problem with paying preachers. My issue is how do we choose whom to pay and for what we will pay? Doesn’t the money determine a preference for one gifting over the other?

Not only is there a significant monetary distinction made for clergy folks. There is also a deference given to clergy folks. There are titles, honorifics, and a place within the church that is clearly for a select few. The toilet cleaners aren’t given a title, or honored, and their place in the church is not special at all.

Scripture seems to emphasize equality much more than our current system. Also, as my friend points out, the ministry was open to anybody. The qualifications were organic, the certifications were relational, and the leadership was familial. But, today we have a new system. We have created an artificial calling. The path is the way of professionalism and it is most certainly a career.

Want to make a difference? Just follow Jesus. But, if you want to stop playing games and be a REAL person of God, get your butt into seminary and get ordained.

This artificial model is inapplicable to the diverse and organic slate of experiences found in local church expressions.

In other words: people who are artists are creating art whether they get paid or not. They can’t help it. If they do get paid, great. If they don’t creativity still flows from them. Monetary realities do not determine the calling. Why isn’t that true of the pastorate, also? Do good whether you are paid or not. Pursue the calling, not the career and God might be found in the totality of it all.


  1. Man, I think about the Asset Based Community Development we use at CenC, working in the neighborhood, and I wonder, “What if it was applied to churches?” Identifying the leaders that naturally exist in a church community and getting them to use their voice, finding the projects and values the group naturally cares about and has energy towards…instead of having everything imposed on them from the top down. I think every church would look different, and that could be scary or it could be wonderful.

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