December 10, 2019

Pastoral Nuggets: Train Engines and Pastors

Have you ever been stopped at a railroad crossing and watched a train go by that had six or seven engines on the front and only fifteen to twenty cars behind?

How about this one? Have you ever seen a really long train going by that had an engine stuck smack-dab in the middle?

One more. Have you ever seen a train with an engine on the rear? Now, perhaps you’ve never witnessed any of these different train scenarios, but I have. (And I can almost hear you saying, “Well, whoopie-do for you!”)

Would it surprise you if I told you that these different train scenarios can also be characteristics of a good pastor? Well, they can be. Let me explain. Don’t leave me.

First, what are you really seeing when the train with all the engines comes by? Here’s the truth of the matter.

Before that train ever left the station somebody somewhere sat down and determined where it was going. They knew where it would start, how many cars it would pickup along the way, the weight of the contents in those cars, how fast it would need to travel, and the steepest grade it would have to cross before reaching its destination. They then put enough power on the front of the train to get it where it was going.

Now, are all the engines engaged and pulling all the time. No! Sometimes, while on a long flat grade, five engines may be idling while only two are pulling.

But that’s okay. Why? Because the very moment the grade changes and the extra power is required, the engines cut in immediately – without hesitation! Humm! Kinda like a pastor, isn’t it?

You may see him idling occasionally. Oh yeah, you’ve heard it.  You may have even said it. “What a job! Only works two days a week!” But when the midnight call comes, or the crisis arises, and it’s your loved one – his pastoral engines have to cut in immediately! You don’t pay him for what he does all the time. You pay him for what he is prepared to do when needed!

Secondly, there’s that engine stuck in the middle of the train.  It serves two functions. It pushes some cars and pulls the others. And it doesn’t have the luxury of idling. It’s engaged all the time! (Pastoring is 24/7/365!)

Reminds me of a story I heard about a pastor in a small town. Every day, around fifteen-minutes ‘til noon, just as regular as clockwork, he would leave his office, get in his car, and drive out of town. The deacons became concerned about his odd behavior and decided to investigate. One day they followed him. The preacher pulled up to a grade crossing and stopped. They were surprised to see him get out of his car and wait for the noon train to come by.

As the train passed by, the preacher snatched his hat off of his head, started waiving it around, went to jumping up and down yelling, “Woo-hoo! Go train, go!” For several days they watched as he did the same thing. Naturally, they confronted him on Sunday and demanded to know why he was going to that rail crossing and cheering for a train. He responded, “I do it because it just thrills me beyond measure to see something moving in this town that I’m not having to push or pull!” (Ouch!)

Finally, there is the engine at the end of the train. In reality, it only has one purpose. As the front part of the long train starts down the steep grades, because it’s still on the flat portion of the grade, it just simply applies its brakes to slow down the train.

Yep!  Possessing the power necessary to get the train to its destination, pushing and pulling all along the way, and applying the brakes when necessary – sure sounds like a good pastor to me!  Oh! I mean engine! Train engine!

I sure hope you show your pastor a lot of appreciation – often!

Brother Aaron  

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