Everybody needs a pastor, and I swear I am not just saying this because I like being employed. In fact, you would think that someone such as myself would not consider this realization so deeply profound. I know, I know: I should know this right? (Add it to the list.) But this week offered me two opportunities to remember, experientially, again, that this is true. It’s really, really true.
The first time this dawned on me I was having a conversation with a new friend whom I had met in a purely social, non-church related context. Of course we all knew the elephant in the room—my profession—and my new friend had already said enough that I knew he had very little first-hand understanding of what I do and probably at least a little disdain. Not unusual in the least. We chatted, exchanged contact information, made plans to talk about a class we’re taking together, and have since then.
Very recently, however, I got an email from this friend asking if I would be available to listen to a personal problem he was having. I admit I had to shift gears, but I knew I could do this—I do it all day long. I am not his pastor; he certainly does not feel that he needs a pastor, but in those moments when I was listening there was no doubt—whether he knows it yet or not: everybody needs a pastor—and he needed one right then.
And then it happened to me. I was at the doctor’s office myself, waiting to have a test done. I looked ridiculous, as I feel most people do in those paper gown things, and I was cold. As the technician prepared the machine and gave me instruction I was really surprised to feel tears pricking my eyes—I felt really, really alone in that moment. This rattled me, I’m not going to lie. I just wasn’t prepared to feel that way. If I had known that, just like everybody else, I need a pastor, I would have called on any number of people who would have been very happy to come with me, hold my hand, tell me that, unlike the rest of the world, I rocked that hospital gown, and wholeheartedly agree with me that the only possibly acceptable choice for MRI music is a classical mix (duh).
But I didn’t know. How on earth did I not know I needed a pastor?
What’s a pastor, then? I can name several people who have been pastors in my life who do not get up and preach a sermon every week. In fact, most of them are not particularly holy. But here’s what they’ve all done for me: they’ve listened. They’ve walked alongside me. They’ve told me the truth. They’ve accepted me for exactly who I am. They’ve all—every one of them—reminded me at some time or another that God is with me, that I am never alone.
I’m okay. I survived that hospital gown and everything was fine, and I’m fairly sure that my new friend found the experience of talking with a pastor not that traumatizing after all. But I walked away from these experiences, yet again, learning something that I probably knew already but I guess I needed to remember: everybody needs pastor.
Everybody needs a pastor. I need a pastor. You need a pastor. Go find one.