August 4, 2021

Pastoral Nuggets: When You Become the Pastor

The names are not important.

But she called me this afternoon to give me an update on her husband of 43 years, who is under home hospice care.

She told me that he was not doing well and that the hospice nurse had told her that it appeared to her that he had started to make his transition.

Now she assured her that she was not God, but it appeared that he may go tonight, tomorrow, or maybe even a few days from now, but it would not be long.

The nurse asked her if she needed to call a chaplain to come by and visit. She told her no, that she already had that taken care of.

I told her that Marianne and I would be by a little later to visit. And fortunately, we got to have a nice visit with both of our friends.

My parting words to her was that I loved her and to call when she needed me. She assured me she would … and she will … and I will preach the funeral service for her husband and my friend.

As we sat and talked, we reminisced about 30 years of friendship that we have shared. I have always been Preacher Aaron to him and her and their family. My kids stayed with them while Marianne and I would go on vacation.

I have always been blessed by God to get to preach revival services all over this local countryside.

Whenever I would be preaching revival services, she would prepare home cooked meals for Marianne and the kids and me. All of us would eat, jump into the car, and off we would go. We may not get back until midnight. And they all had to get up and work the next day and the kids had to go to school.

But the next night, we would do it again. What wonderful times we had doing life together!

Although the names are different, the scenario described above about being called back by friends from long ago, has played out more times than I can remember.

As I train the young Preacher Boys that I mentor, I tell them, “Now boys, when you get a church they are going to ‘give’ you the title of ‘Pastor.’

But boys, make no mistake about it. You are not their pastor yet. You are merely their ‘Paid Preacher.’

‘Pastor’ is not a title that can be ‘given;’ it has to be earned. And boys, you will not be their pastor until you have laughed with them, cried with them, married their young, buried their dead, and done life with them. And somewhere in this process you will earn that title.

But boys, here is the good part – once you become their pastor, you can never not be their pastor. It does not matter whose name is on the church sign as pastor – the reality is – you are their pastor!”

I laugh today, because when I was a young pastor it used to make me mad when some of my church members would call in an old pastor to either perform a wedding, or to bury somebody.

I would mumble under my breath, “I am your pastor; not him!” No! I was just the “Paid Preacher.” But now I laugh – because I am now the old preacher that families call!

Statistics say that it somewhere around the sixth year of a pastorate before a pastor experiences what is called “full pastoral buy in” from his congregation and he transitions from “Paid Preacher” to “Pastor.”

Sadly, many churches are changing pastors every two to three years and these men never get to know what an awesome thing it is to become somebody’s pastor.

At my first church a deacon’s wife introduced me to her friend. I will never forget what she said.  She said, “I want you to meet Brother Aaron. When I need him to be, he’s my pastor. The rest of the time he’s just my friend.”

Once you become the pastor, unless you just mess-up royally, you can never again not be the pastor. And it is a beautiful thing when you become somebody’s pastor! I cherish that title in my life!

Brother Aaron


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