In my position at MTS, I am often in the company of pastors. They serve on our board of trustees, make use of our library, teach courses as adjunct faculty, audit courses because they like a professor or a topic, and of course, attend meetings. One of these meetings is the quarterly United Methodist Council luncheon, where we discuss items of specific interest to the United Methodist Church, and invite a Methodist professor to share a little bit of the classroom.
I am a United Methodist. In our system, ordained and local pastors are appointed, not called. The Bishop and Cabinet use a prayerful and complicated process to choose who will serve what congregation, and in the spring, appointments are announced. Most congregations do not know if their pastor will be moved until these announcements are made. It’s an itinerant system that keeps congregations from depending on a person – the pastor – to do all the heavy lifting!
This year, I know that I will receive a new pastor. Our church was part of a mid-year change, and since then, we’ve been blessed with an interim pastor who came out of retirement to serve in this capacity.
So now, each time I see one of my United Methodist pastor friends and colleagues, I think to myself, “Are you the one?”
Will you be a him or a her? Will you be new to ministry or a long-time servant? Will you lead us with strength or guide us with quiet resolve? – or know how to do both effectively? Will you like us? Will we like you? Will our church grow and thrive? Will we put away our differences and squabbles and be the people God means for us to be?
It occurs to me, however, that I should be asking a different set of questions. If the answer to “Are you the one?” is “Yes, I am,” my next question should be “How can I help you in this ministry?” I must ask myself if I am willing to serve on a committee, come early or stay late, do things within my comfort zone as well as step outside those bounds – whatever is needed for ministry to be effective.
The question is not only, “Are you the one?,” but also, “Am I the one?”
As our congregation welcomes a new pastor in the spring, I pledge to ask myself that question each time an opportunity presents itself. Am I the one to lead that effort? Am I the one to serve on the committee? Am I the one to join the choir or share the children’s sermon or be a communion steward? Am I the one to lead a Sunday School lesson? Am I the one to befriend the new family? Am I the one to visit someone in the hospital or attend a funeral? Am I the one to pray for others?
I give my new pastor permission to ask of me, “Are you the one?”