Here is part four of this five part series on how to avoid becoming the pastor you swore you’d never become. This week we look at being a prophet. From p.24 in The Unofficial United Methodist Handbook for Pastors:
You are a prophet. (“Leading the people of God in obedience to mission in the world, to seek justice, peace, and freedom for all people…”) The best biblical understanding of ‘prohet’ is “one who speaks for another.’ Your prophetic task is to move yourself, your flock, and society into alignment with God’s will and God’s coming reign.
- Assume that you are a prophet just because you have been run out of four churches. An effective prophet will choose her or his ‘fights.’ A common error for beginning pastors is to see all issues as being of equal importance. They are not. (See Romans 14:1)
- Worry too much about keeping people happy. The word ‘happy’ does not appear in the examination at ordination. ‘Faithful’ is a better standard.
- Identify those persons in your community who are not present when your congregation gathers. Ask: Why are they not here? Would Jesus welcome them? How do we show hospitality?
- Remember the Wesleyan tradition of social holiness. Help your flock attend to loving the neighbor who can be seen and then neighbor who cannot be seen. The ‘sacred worth’ of persons is not defined by sexual orientation, national boundaries, economic conditions, or gender.