Reflections of 25 Years: The Bible is so incredibly rich that I don’t have time for other interests.
Dr. Randy White
In my earlier years, I was a leader. In my later days, I’ve become a preacher. I used to spend much of my time leading the church, with varying degrees of success. I spent time visioning and vision-casting. I prepared budgets, promoted programs and established agendas. These are the things that leaders do.
As the years progressed, I was forced to study the Scriptures more. A young pastor can deliver three points and a poem and call it a sermon, but the longer you stay, the larger the congregation and the more educated the listeners, the more a pastor has to work hard to prepare a sermon that is fresh and useful. As this process began to take place in my life, I began to study the Word more and more, deeper and deeper. The more I began to study the Word, the more I fell in love with understanding what it said. The more I understood what it said, the more I realized that many of the things I had believed and taught were not really Biblical principles, but cultural norms from my Southern Baptist culture.
In time, I’ve come to the place that I find the Bible so incredibly rich that I don’t have time for other interests. I preach or teach several times each week, and can’t think of doing anything differently. Wherever two or three are gathered together, I want to teach them! When I teach or preach, I spend many hours in preparation. The older I get, the more I realize that I need to study more. I’m not satisfied with simple platitudes and “Sunday school” answers. I want to know what the Bible says, and make sure I’m understanding it correctly. I find that when I begin to study, there is no stopping point. I typically stop because time is up, not because I’m done.
The other interests I had, and others have, are not sinful in themselves, but in pastoral reflection I find them to be less satisfying and of less ultimate value than knowing the Word. Further, as a pastor I am commanded to “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2). As a Christian, I am commanded to study so that I will be “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed” (2 Tim. 2:15). Because of these commands and because of the richness of the Word, I desire to spend my life studying and teaching others to study and comprehend the wonderful depth of the riches wisdom, and knowledge of God revealed in the Bible.
What do we call the pastor?
In this light, what should the pastor be called? I don’t like “reverend.” It means “one who is to be revered,” and is inappropriate for the Biblical nature of the church as a body with different but equally valuable members. For many years I was “Brother Randy,” which recognizes the equal status of membership and also expresses a loving family relationship. I was often called “pastor,” which is the name of my career field. Later I accepted the term “senior pastor,” a title that came about when church staff began thinking they needed the term pastor and therefore there was confusion when someone referred to the pastor. I eventually rejected the “senior” aspect of the title because I think a church only has one pastor, regardless of how many ministerial staff it may have. My church had a staff of ministers and one pastor. Today the title de jour is “lead pastor,” which I reject even more than “senior” because of the emphasis on leadership rather than on “ prayer, and… the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). The title “teaching pastor” is confusing, and implies that there are multiple pastors, so I don’t like that either. Does a church need a teaching pastor, reaching pastor, missions pastor, children’s pastor, lead pastor, pastoral care pastor, etc.?
In the end, I am most honored with a one-word title: PREACHER. This describes what I do. It recognizes that the church is a body and that decision making and governance come from the body. It recognizes that I should be spending the bulk of my time preaching and preparing to preach. And, best of all, everybody knows what it means, both inside and outside the church. Preachers preach.
And for this reason, I don’t have an “office.” An office is where management, leadership, decision making and to-do lists are done. As a preacher, I do my work in the “study,” where study is done.
So, if you need me, just come looking for the preacher in his study.
Next in this series: Reflection #5: The cause of almost every church problem.
To read all the articles of this series, click here.