Pastor, prophet, priest are the roles we are called to live out in the church. There are times when we need to be all three at once and many times when one role supersedes the others. One of the failings, in my opinion, of seminary training is in clearly helping new pastors learn how to be each. It seems to me, again IMHO, that many seminaries are turning out intellectual gurus who have a great deal of book knowledge but little, if any, practical knowledge when it comes to the delicate spiritual life of our parishioners.
As a result I find in my coaching that far too many pastors have an intellectual air about them that shuts them off from their congregations and impoverishes the pastoral, prophetic and priestly roles to the detriment of the church and the call of Christ.
Now, maybe I have just heard far too many lectures that are supposed to sermons lately and that is why I have come to form this opinion, or as a coach I walk into a church that has been pummeled with ideas without any attention to the spiritual life of the congregation, or I have witnessed far too often the death of a church due to lack of passion for Christ. Whatever the reason, I am on my soap box and posit this as food for thought.
Today the 3 P’s have been replaced by 3 C’s – CEO, Caseworker, Consultant. Pastors are called to run a non-profit, which is often in financial trouble, to find ways to bring new life to a dying church and to direct troubled families to the appropriate services on a daily basis. We are the ones who are expected to solve the problem. And the problem is real if we are to survive financially and have a church to lead.
In doing so many times the power of the P’s is lost as we work and think more and more like a secular business man or woman. The urgency of the problem propels us into problem solving mode rather than question asking mode.
The C’s are the reality of the modern-day pastorate. We cannot escape them. What I would like to offer though is a way to move through the C’s in particular without losing the P’s in the process.
I would like to add another C and that is of coach. Instead of trying to be the one who fixes everything and everyone at the risk of fixing nothing, we need to be trained in the art of coaching people. (Seminaries take note!)
When a person is coached, he/she is the one who finds their solution. Coaching is about a relationship in which the coach is the cheerleader, advocate, question asker and accountability partner. Developing this relationship takes time and the quickest way to destroy that relationship is to tell the other person what to do and how to do it, i.e. to fix it. (CEO/Consultant/Caseworker can all work against a coaching relationship).
Isn’t it the prophet who asks the deep questions? Isn’t it the pastor who established a relationship based on the word of God, trust and presence? Isn’t it the priest who reminds us through ritual that we are all part of a bigger plan and purpose?
The church’s coach in the pulpit, the board meeting, or at the altar brings the 3 P’s to life in a way that empowers the church in a way that telling, directing and fixing can never do.
And the hardest questions to ask…are we a coach or a CEO? are we the pastor or the Caseworker? are we the consultant or the prophet? are we the priest or the answer person?
“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land.” Psalm 137.4