What Do You Do for a Living?
by Ben Swanson
“What do you do for a living?”
I don’t like answering this question. I don’t like telling people I am a pastor because I have no idea how they will respond. I do know that 99% of the time I go from “Just one of the guys” to “That pastor guy.”
Everyone has a different response to pastors. Some people don’t want to talk with me because I’m a pastor and others want to talk with me all the more because of my role.
The number of assumptions and confusions about the role of pastors in the church remains uncountable. This makes me wonder if you know what I do. Do you know what my role is in our church? Do you know what I do and don’t do?
What I do:
I pray. I attempt to maintain contact with God even when doing other things. We share space. We give attention to each other. I’m not someone who spends hours in solitude praying for needs. However, when I hear of a need, I immediately pray for the situation. It happens many times every day. When I am saddened by local or global news, I interact with God about it. If you’re reading this, then you’ve been prayed for because as I write I am praying for anyone who reads these words.
I read and listen. I spend many hours every week studying the scripture text for Sunday’s sermon and I read other books about theology, the Bible, spirituality, and best practices. I also listen to a great diversity of podcasts on a number of topics often while doing “busy work” around the office or at home.
I communicate. The 30-45 minutes with you on Sunday morning preaching and conversing together is the highlight of my week. I love to preach and I love to hold public dialog about God and the Bible. I feel most at home – right with the world and God – when I am preaching and listening to your responses.
I attempt to inspire. Whether from the pulpit, writing emails, talking on the phone, or in meetings, I want to inspire people with something of God. Sometimes all it takes is speaking “God” and letting his identity dwell within a conversation. Other times a specific teaching, experience, or text from the Bible is needed.
I care. I meet with anyone from our church or our community needing comfort, counsel, and/or prayer. I am present with people while trusting God is present with us.
I lead. My primary leadership role is in worship. I lead in organizing worship and serving communion. I also serve on the Leadership Team of the church, but as we will look at next week, I am not “in charge” of our church.
This list is incomplete. It neglects the dozen or so “occasional hats” I wear and the volunteer work I do on behalf of the church. It also doesn’t get into much nitty-gritty, but I hope it helps to know what I do as a pastor during any given week.