Am I a Pastor?

by Mikel Berger

Drew’s sermon on vocation as part of the Reformed and Reforming series got me thinking. I of course thought about the calling I have in my “day job.” But it also made me think about my calling as an elder.

I’ve been an elder for a while now. But I still run into situations where this vocation of eldering still doesn’t feel like it fits.

I saw Pastor Don Whipple a few weeks ago. For those new around here, he’s the former pastor at Kossuth for 27 years. Whenever he first sees me in the last few years, he always says “Hey Pastor, how’s it going?” PDW (it’s what I call him) is the only person that calls me pastor and it always throws me off. If you know PDW, you know it is intentional. But pastor isn’t something I’m used to being called. I have a bit of imposter syndrome if someone gives me the title. PDW has earned that title and respect over his many years of service.

Why should I presume to be in that league? I haven’t been to seminary. I’ve only been an elder for 3 years. I mostly go to a few hours of meetings a month. So I’ve got about 468 hours under my belt. I conservatively estimate that PDW has spent over 70,000 hours pastoring. PDW went to seminary and even has a doctorate. I graduated from the College of Technology at Purdue and studied programming languages that were outdated five years after I graduated. Who am I to be claiming to be a pastor?

Just as Drew called on us to think about our work in the office, the home, and even in our beds (Sleep for God! Amazing!), I believe I need to think about my “work” as an elder more holistically.

My callings to lead in the workplace, in my home, and in our church do not come from separate sources. They all come from our creator God. While I deal with different people and deal with different issues in each setting, I have the same desire to serve people and show love to them. Serving people and loving them. That sounds a lot like pastoring or shepherding. Maybe it is the language of our Mission (singular) Emphasis Sundays last month that has me thinking this way, but I’m more and more thinking that I have a single calling that works itself out in a multitude of settings.

The pull of work, home, and church do not have to be competing forces. I’m not some sort of spiritual Stretch Armstrong. It certainly isn’t perfect in my life, but the more I think through this the more I see God at work in one venue and then doing something similar in my life in another. Things I learn at church make a better business owner. Things in work are helpful in community groups I’m involved with. Those community groups have given me friends that my family knows. My family certainly is the main reason I can serve in the ways I do at church. They all cross over in these ways and more.

I’m continually surprised by this. But why should I be? There’s a singular entity that placed me into all of these situations. I’m still figuring all this out. My guess is you are too. But I think that’s the point here. God put all of us together to figure it out together. I’m so glad to not be doing it alone but to be doing it with you all.

I’ll end now because my family is waking up and then I need to get to the office. I have some pastoring to do...