When I preach, I am
absorbed in faces. I'm captured by the sustained opportunity preaching creates
to gaze into the faces of those I am seeking to serve as a pastor. In worship,
it seems more obvious that others are seeing me. In fact, I am truly seeing
them. I see and absorb all kinds of things about people during these moments of
proclamation. The most profound observation is also the most obvious: they are
Being a pastor for 30 years has given me the chance to see both the gifts and the weaknesses of people up close. This vantage point sometimes makes mine one of the weirdest vocations as well as a rewarding one. My breath has been taken away by joy and by shame. It's the story of talents and tyrants told again and again.
Every pastor needs to
address the issue of freedom and accountability. It's part of the pastor's role
in nurturing a church community: neither a laissez-faire atmosphere nor a
judicial one helps people grow as disciples.
God grants astonishing freedom to creatures who bear the imago dei. The Arab Spring is only the latest evidence of the human desire for freedom. What's more, and far more awkward in a culture of autonomous freedom like ours, is that the God who gives us freedom also holds us accountable for what we do with this gift.
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