In his new memoir Outsider Looking In, Gary Wills, leftist intellectual and former conservative journalist, made an interesting observation about politicians who try to become academics after they leave office.
“Politicians live for contact with people. They lose the gift for contemplation, or research, or simple reading. Being alone with a book is a way to die for many of them.”
Real shepherds know the sheep, live with the sheep, and even eat the same sheep food. This sort of life demands both public engagement with real people and meaningful private moments alone with piles of books. In churches we have code language that goes something like this. If the guy is warm and friendly but can’t preach to save his life, it is said of him that “he has a pastor’s heart.” Conversely, many wonderfully skilled expositors are nothing more than full-time conference speakers who drop into their congregations most Sundays and deliver a conference-like message. In short, if our vocation hovers anywhere near the end of Ephesians 4:11 we need to embrace the full weight of what it means to be a pastor and the commitment involved for those who are called to teach the Word. Are you a pastor or a teacher? The answer should be “both.”