Ministry Musings: Priest or Functionary?

One of Pope Francis’ first-year concerns is the renewal of the priesthood from it having eroded into functionalism.  This is something for all of us clergy to think about.  It is not limited to Roman Catholic priests.  It can happen to any of us who are called to ordained/professional ministry.

The basic difference between a priest and a functionary is that the former is a water drinker, the latter only a water carrier.  On the outside priests and functionaries may look similar–although I think our laity can tell if we are ministering from the heart, or just going through the motions.The difference is what is going on inside.

If our hearts are becoming wastelands (no matter how), it will not be long before we cease producing the fruit of the Spirit and begin handing our people waxed fruit.  In that moment we will have become functionaries.

The Spirit is speaking to us through the concern of Pope Francis.  May God give us the grace to assess our hearts, and then to practice the means of grace so that we may be priests–men and women whose lives are gardens, not just grocery stores.  We are always at our best when we eat the Bread of Life as well as offer it.

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 Ministry Musings: Priest or Functionary?

  1. Tommy Artmann says:

    An excellent reminder. Thank you!

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