Shepherd’s Care: The Power of Clear Vision (1)

Jesus said that the people of his day had eyes to see, but did not see.  The lack of vision led to multiple perils and was arguably the major reason why he could not break through to reach their hearts.

For the next few weeks, we’ll examine the importance of having good vision.  Today, we focus on our ability to see our public behavior for what it is.  So much of our time as clergy is spent out in the open, we need to be sure that the authenticity we spoke of last week has not devolved into an “image.”

The way to “see” the reality of our public behavior is to ask, “Why did I do this?”  That is, we need to check in with our motives.

I remember a day in my life as a pastor.  I was on the way to the hospital to visit a member of the congregation.  The light turned red, and I had to stop before continuing on my way.

While parked there, the Inner Voice asked, “If you were not this person’s pastor, would you be going to the hospital today?”

The question took me back, but I knew in my heart that it was a question to pay attention to.  It was a question inviting me to revisit my motivations for ministry.

We need times like this.  They may come from the Spirit of God or from a loving spouse willing to ask us to go beneath image and move into substance.

I confess that I responded to the Inner Voice with something like, “I am not sure.”  In that moment, I was given grace.  For the Voice (not a literal one) continued, “It’s okay for you to go because you are the person’s pastor.  That’s a legitimate reason.  But I just want to keep making sure that your ministry is not becoming all performance oriented and not flowing out of your personhood.”

Our public behavior will be seen by others in all sorts of ways.  We must make sure that we see it in relation to WHO we are, not exclusively by WHAT we do.  We must never stop to ask, “Why am I doing this?” (the motive question), not simply “What am I doing?”

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to Shepherd’s Care: The Power of Clear Vision (1)

  1. Margot R Thompson says:

    Good Morning Rev. Steve!

    I am in deep accord that anyone (lay or clergy) in pastoral ministry must always pray for a shepherd’s heart! One litmus test I apply is: What blessing do I seek in entering this saint’s room? The corollary to that question is: Do you expect to bless this person? In what way?

    My chaplaincy mentor asked frequently: What are the tangible tools of your minstry here at the Lexington VA?

    I seek, as much as possible, to keep the call for lay shepherds going out from the lectern and the pulpit. The fellowship of shepherding ministry is at the heart of the body of Christ. Jesus is our motive.

    Blessings,
    Margot

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