This is exactly the kind of post for my yet to be created blog, House of Love. So, it will go on this blog for now.
Today I read The Burr in the Burgh: What Is a Pastor? This morning my heart is very heavy with worries for my children. This post really ministers to my sad heart and reminded me of where my hope lies.
Pastor Stiegemeyer writes:
...sometimes pastors lead out in front of the flock. And other times, they get behind and push the sheep like a cowboy. Just because the word "pastor" literally means shepherd doesn't mean that some of us aren't really cowboys at heart.
The shepherd leads in such a way that the sheep hear his voice and want to follow. Why? Because they know he will take them to quiet waters and green grass. The cowboy, on the other hand, has to shout and shove and lash the herd to make it go where he wants it to. I see this really as a distinction between Law and Gospel.
The faithful pastor uses both Law and Gospel. But we motivate Christians to follow Christ not primarily with a whip, not with threats and curses. The sheep might go where they are directed as a result of bullying, but they will hate you for it. The better way - Christ's way - is to lead by offering us His blessing. It's like this. Do you follow Christ because you fear His wrath if you do otherwise? Or do you follow Him out of love, because He calls you gently and offers you good things?
This post got me to thinking about the similarities between pastoring and parenting. I am probably guilty of being a cowboy more than a shepherd and I think the primary reason is fear. I fear that I'm not doing well enough, because if I was then my parenting subjects would be very close to perfect. I imagine that some pastors must struggle with that falsehood, too. If I was a good pastor, then my congregation would be (fill in the blank). Is this the secret to parenting: "The shepherd leads in such a way that the sheep hear his voice and want to follow. Why? Because they know he will take them to quiet waters and green grass. The cowboy, on the other hand, has to shout and shove and lash the herd to make it go where he wants it to."
About a year ago, I wrote an email regarding parenting to one of our pastors and he replied:
Blessings in Him who was the perfect child and through whom we have access to the perfect parent - our heavenly Father - Jesus!
What does the Bible say about parenting? Your first and primary responsibility is wrapped up with the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. Before we give our children anything else, it's bringing them to the Means of Grace, the Gospel in Word and Sacrament, and the working of the Holy Spirit.
The very best thing I ever did for my children was bring them to the waters of Baptism. Honestly, I could give them the best of the whole world, but everything, everything pales in comparison to bringing them to Jesus and Jesus to them. "What does a man
gain if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul..." Jesus says (Mt 16:26).
The sole of parenting is really attached to the soul. I believe that governs everything. How will this effect the eternal soul? is a good question always to ask. That governs setting definite expectations and consequences, communication - use of Law and Gospel, marital example, Christian example, etc., etc.
In Rev. 14:13 it mentions that we will rest from our labors and our "works" will follow us when we go to heaven. What can we take with us from this earth - PEOPLE, especially the ones the Lord's entrusted to us in our homes.
I printed up his email and actually carry it my purse to read it moments of frustration. Now, I'll print up Pastor Steigemeyer's advice, too. I love how our pastors, Pastor Steigemeyer and Martin Luther, just keep turning us back to scripture. What does scripture say? What does scripture say? That is the one thing I hear the most and is the most comforting advice in the world.