Today marks my seventh anniversary of ordination into the Office of Holy Ministry. Has it really been that long? Sometimes it does and other times it doesn’t. I had one person comment that ordination adds 50 years to your life. That’s a very interesting way to look at it.
As I reflect upon these last seven years, I see many good things the Lord has done for me and my ministry, for my family, and for the congregation that I am blessed to serve. But at the same time, I see the ways that the devil has attacked me and the congregation that I serve as well.
Being a pastor isn’t always glorious. In fact, glorious wouldn’t be the word I would use to describe it. Rather, I would say self-sacrificing, giving, shepherding, and even at times ugly. But doing the work of the Lord is the rewarding and glorious part. Bringing Christ to people in desperate need of a Savior is what it is all about. Bringing the body and blood of our Lord and Savior to the member in the hospital or on their death bed is what it is all about. Declaring a person forgiven all of their sins on account of Jesus Christ is what it is all about.
What have I learned these last seven years? I have learned that there is still more that I don’t know. I don’t pretend to know everything. I need to hear that my sins are forgiving just as much as my members sitting in the pew. I need to receive Christ’s body and blood for the forgiveness of my sins just as much as the next person does. You see, being a pastor doesn’t make you sinless. Being a pastor doesn’t earn you any better of a place in heaven as the next person. Being a pastor is a special vocation that God calls a man to, in order to bring Christ and His Gifts of Word and Sacrament to a congregation. The man who is a pastor is still a man. That means he is just as sinful, if not worse, than the next person, because he is the chief of sinners, just as you are.
If anything, after seven years, I guess I would say one thing that I am is humble. For some reason unknown to me, God saw it fit to call me to be a pastor. More often than not, the answer alludes me, but God is God and I am not. I trust His Word and His divine judgment. If he wanted me to be a shepherd to His sheep, who am I to argue?
To sum it up, here is a pray from Martin Luther at the ordination of a pastor:
Merciful God, heavenly Father, thou hast said to us through the mouth of thy dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest” [Matt. 9:37–38]. Upon this thy divine command, we pray heartily that thou wouldst grant thy Holy Spirit richly to these thy servants, to us, and to all those who are called to serve thy Word so that the company of us who publish the good tidings may be great, and that we may stand faithful and firm against the devil, the world, and the flesh, to the end that thy name may be hallowed, thy kingdom grow, and thy will be done. Be also pleased at length to check and stop the detestable abomination of the pope, Mohammed, and other sects which blaspheme thy name, hinder thy kingdom, and oppose thy will. Graciously hear this our prayer, since thou hast so commanded, taught, and promised, even as we believe and trust through thy dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.