Completing another Master’s Degree recently, our son Robert began his new full-time ministry at 1st Chinese Baptist Church in Seattle. While together recently, he shared of the difference between the position of a pastor(title) versus being a pastor(experience). It was a joy to hear of his spiritual growth as he revealed his understanding of such a simple but important difference in thinking. He showed that he was a developing practitioner and not limited to positional thinking for serving the Lord. Indeed, it is not our position that God cares about but our hearts of service as we make ourselves available to Him. The “cap” that Robert now wears says that he is a pastor, by position, but he is only now learning that the “cap” is not as important as being, by function/heart, a pastor toward others.
Missiologists and national coworkers have struggled in China for years over the importance of Pastoral Ordination (position). Seeing overseas models, the Chinese Church is tempted to take the stance that Ordination is valuable to their church’s ministry. Yet, with the growth of Chinese churches being so rapid, many understand Ordination as a hindrance to that movement of church growth as it results in many well-meaning churches slowing their outreach for fear of not having someone to “wear the hat of their Ordained Pastor” when they have new churches started! Ordination does not make a pastor. This discussion continues on even as the lost of China need to be reached with the Gospel.
Whether it be doctoral degrees, masters degrees, Ordination or Licensing, or other positions created by man, may we all remember that God wants us all to wear the “cap” that says, “I am a Jesus follower, how may I help you?”