A Sermon Flashback

While I was delivering a sermon a couple of weeks ago, I had a sudden flashback to what one of my seminary professors said in 1988:

“A pastor one who cares for souls. Never lose sight of the fact that God has entrusted everlasting souls into your ministry.”

One who cares for souls.

Not “one who preaches sermons.”

Not “one who manages systems.”

Not “one who motivates volunteers.”

Not “one who leads organizations.”

Not even “one who empowers communities.”

But one who cares for, tends to, speaks over, prays healing into . . . that part of human existence that will never die. The soul.

Whether the crowd is large or small, whether the congregation is supportive or oppositional, whether people are energized or complacent, the fundamental job description remains the same: to care for souls.

Not to save those souls, since that job has already been done.

But to care for them.

When I remember that fundamental task, ministry flows pretty well. When I veer from it, difficulty arises.

To care for souls. A high calling, a large task, one for which all of us who call ourselves “pastors” are ill-equipped.

Until the Holy Spirit steps in.