"A leader is a person that you follow to a place you'd never go by yourself." This was a statement by a very wise and good friend of mine. It has been a statement that has stuck with me since the moment I heard it. I've been thinking a lot about that statement recently. Tomorrow I begin my internship. It is one of those major milestones that one hits in their seminary career. I have long considered myself to be a public, Christian leader, but tomorrow seems to embody an enhancement of that idea. As I think about what that means, and what being a pastor means (or at least what it seems to mean to me at this point) there are many different areas that come into play. Preaching, teaching and administering the sacraments are chiefly among those. But another huge part of it is leadership. I've often heard that as a pastor, one is called to be a leader of the congregation. I have to be honest in the fact that I've always found that idea to be a little bit uncomfortable. First off, I have to believe the Holy Spirit is the one who leads the congregation. But I'm also a bit wary of the image that "leading" portrays. I do not want to be one of those pastors who pulls the congregation where I think we ought to go. Instead, I want to be the one to help the congregation discern where the spirit leads them to go.
As I'm thinking about this and looking back on everything I've written, it occurs to me that I really am lost when it comes to this leadership idea. I have a ton of ideas swimming around, but nothing coherent is coming out. So, I pray that God will be with me as I figure out this whole leadership thing.
Now, I'll be honest with you. I am feeling a big push from the Holy Spirit to say something. I'm not really sure why, but hopefully it's something that someone out there needs to hear. Maybe it's something I need to hear. Who knows?
A mentor pastor of mine preached a sermon once on the 23rd Psalm. (Probably one of the best I've ever heard)
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff-- they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.
Remember that the Lord is your shepherd. He is your leader. As my Pa told me "I like to read it, The lord is my shepherd, and that's all I want."
But the major thing you need to hear, whoever you are, is that even though you're in the valley, you've gotta walk. It's not a run to get out, but it's not a crawl, and it's certainly not a lay down and call it quits. Keep moving, keep walking, the Lord leads you, and someday you'll find yourself out of the valley. JUST KEEP GOING BECAUSE HE'S RIGHT THERE WITH YOU!