On Being a Pastor

June 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Pastor's Corner

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I thought of being a high school music director because I enjoy working with youth and making music. Or a lawyer because I like thinking through an argument and presenting a case. Until my own Confirmation Day in the 8th grade, I had not considered being a pastor. But that day God spoke into my life.

In front of my congregation, I professed my faith in Jesus and pledged to serve God with my life. Along with my 15 peers, I received prayer and a blessing. I left worship that day with the idea that I would be a pastor. It wasn’t exactly a voice that I heard, but it was quite strong. I wasn’t necessarily excited about it, so I didn’t talk about it until years later.

I come from a long line of faithful Christians, Lutheran mostly. But no one in my family has ever served in full-time, professional ministry. So I started to pay attention to the pastors in my life. I noticed how pastors work with a wide variety of ages and fill all sorts of roles. Pastors are teachers, counselors, coaches, mentors, speakers, writers, leaders, servants, students, managers, organizers, volunteer coordinators, visionaries, social workers, ambassadors, and missionaries. This seemed to fit me; I had a wide variety of skills and interests, but none that was dominant.

At Luther College I studied music and psychology. I didn’t know if I would go to seminary, but this coursework would support a call to ministry. (A bachelor’s degree is required for entrance into seminary, but the field of study can vary.) After two years of full-time volunteer work, I attended Luther Seminary to complete my Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree, a 4-year course of study that includes one year of internship. Students also engage in a process called “candidacy” to obtain the endorsement and approval of the church in order to be ordained as a pastor.

Ten years ago this June 21st I was ordained into the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This means

that the Word of God (its teaching and preaching) and the sacraments (Holy Baptism and Holy Communion) are at the center of my calling to serve among God’s people. More than once I have been asked if I have another job besides being a pastor. I do! I am a husband, father, and friend. But, no, I don’t have any other job for financial compensation. Some pastors do, or they serve part-time as pastor. But I serve St. John’s full-time as pastor. And, for the most part, I love it.

It’s hard to pick what I love most about being a pastor. I love seeing lives transformed by the good news of Jesus. I love reading the Bible with people and declaring God’s promises. I love baptizing and sharing Holy Communion. I love praying with people and equipping people to do God’s work. I love building community. My heart sings when people are drawn into the church, when we experience the joy of worshipping God, when we reach out and care for each other, and when we find our niche in the Church and in the world. That’s what I want for us, and it’s what God wants for us: to come alive in the Spirit and live in God’s love together.

My hardest moments are when people live in ways that are shortsighted, selfish, and not good for them. We all get our priorities mixed up and make bad choices. My heart grieves when I see people drifting from God or absent from the church community. It’s like family members who miss coming to the family gathering. I suppose in this way I get a glimpse of God’s heart for us, who grieves when we are hurt or wander away.

Even on my worst days, I thank God for speaking into my life and guiding my path. I probably could have been happy as a music director or lawyer, but I can’t imagine being any more fulfilled in my calling than I am now. Maybe God is calling you or someone you know into this beautiful vocation of ministry. I’d recommend it. Either way, God is speaking to you and has a purpose for your life. I pray you live it every day.

In Christ,

Pastor Matthew Poock

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”    -Colossians 3:17


  • Brooke Fraser

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