Friday, April 11, 2008

Pastoral Models and Admiration

We are drawn to what we admire, and I fear that we increasingly admire the smooth CEO of a pastor, and not the die-in-place, content-with-humble-station minister, more esteemed in my youth. Our focus then was upon the Jim Elliot of Through the Gates of Splendor and the Lottie Moon of the Southern Baptist memorial mission offering. Beset by murderous Ecuadorian Aucas, missionary Elliot fired his pistol into the air. He knew that he was surely bound for heaven, and just as surely that his murderers were bound for hell; so he chose his death over theirs. Similarly, Lottie Moon resolved to eat no more, an act of sympathy with the starving Christians of her region. Her letters were marked with accounts of "the strange appearance of the drought-stricken sky, roads strewn with corpses, and mothers hanging themselves in country villages." In her last moments on shipboard home, she conversed with "Chinese friends long since gone on before her." These were our heroes.

Those more familiar with rental car upgrades and Big Bertha drivers than the smell of burning garbage and diesel exhaust in a mission field slum, the weary late-afternoon trek through hospital visits, and the fifteenth hour of preparation for a single sermon may, sadly, be our models today.

Some argue that Judas would fare well in today's environment.

-- Mark Coppenger, "Deliver Us From Professionalization." In Reforming Pastoral Ministry, ed. by John Armstrong