My Earliest Memory of What a Pastor is
My first impressions of who and what a Pastor is revolved around how Pastor John handled the breaking apart of my family.
WHAT (or WHO) IS A PASTOR?
As I begin this Series on becoming and being a Pastor, it seems fitting to go back in time to see how, when, and where the seeds of my… what, calling? vocation? … first got planted.
But even before the how/when/where, I want to start with a couple “whos” because, as with any profession, one has to have not only a general understanding of what a particular job is, but also a specific idea or example of what it means to do that job.
As I look back I can recall two pastors who left an indelible mark on not just my sense of what a Pastor is, but also in terms of shaping the kind of Pastor I would go on to become. While my decision to go in to full-time ministry was one of those out-of-nowhere moments (which I’ll share about in the coming weeks), I can look back now and see how these two men shaped my conception of what a Pastor is in ways that not only revealed that such an occupation was a positive one (for me, anyway), but might also be one uniquely adapted for my own personality, skill set, and passions.
CHURCH IS LIFE
Like many who grew up as I did, church was life as a kid.
I’m the middle child of three boys and virtually my entire childhood was shaped around church world. My dad comes from a long line of Baptists, whereas my mom was a first generation Christian—converting to (Baptist) Christianity in high school and meeting my eventual-dad in the youth group. When they married and started having us kids they still attended the church they met in—the very one my dad had attended since childhood. Both my parents were active in the church, so as a result our family was downtown at First Baptist Church multiple times a week.
I can still remember the massive exterior brick walls taking up nearly an entire block; the outdoor playground with old metal monkey bars shedding years of chipped paint; the basement level fellowship hall that served juice and cookies after service; and the massive sanctuary with rows of pews, a sloped floor, and an impressive choir loft. Every single Sunday we’d sit in the same pew, boringly enduring the service and and anxiously awaiting the aforementioned juice and cookies.
At some point (maybe I was six? Or seven?) my parents decided to switch churches. I’m sure they’ve told me why, but I don’t now recall. (Maybe something to do with wanting to be in a different community than the one you grew up in? The one your parents/in-laws still actively attend and serve in as well?)
We ended up at North Albany Baptist Church (still a Baptist church, obviously 🤪) and, while the setting was fresh, the routine remained much the same: choir rehearsal on Wednesdays, church on Sunday mornings, usually something Sunday evening, and year round events such as Harvest Festivals, Easter cantatas, and Christmas pageants galore.
That’s when I met Pastor John.