On Being a Pastor, Wright and Bird

A pastor or servant of Christ’s body is called to be a personified Passion-story, a walking and talking parable of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That is the living proof that God uses death, vulnerability, and weakness to bring about life, hope, and triumph. Christian ministry is about being outwardly battered and bruised but inwardly renewed; this is why we can rejoice with thanksgiving even amid hardship. To the world, such a life smells of death and defeat, but actually it is spreading an aroma that brings life. To the cultural elites, such people often look pathetic and defeated, but in reality they are champions of God’s kingdom. To sophistic professors, their message sounds foolish and dishonourable, but in God’s eyes they embody his wisdom and righteousness. To the political powers, they are the scum of the earth, but in God’s design they are the ones upon whom the end of ages has come, jars of clay concealing the all-surpassing power of God. How can this be, Paul himself asks. Well, he answers: ‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.’

N. T. Wright and Michael F. Bird, The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians (London; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic; SPCK, 2019), 500.

This is why pastors who are not truly called to the job either burn out or else decide to be “leaders” instead of servants.

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