Saturday, September 04, 2004

am I an unspiritual pastor?

I fear I am unspiritual. You see, I have some pastor friends. Before they speak, they get up early and pray.

I don’t. I try to get a good night’s sleep. Another pastor friend I know even goes so far as to ask people they speak to, to prepare prior, by fasting. I don’t. I am not nearly this spiritual. In fact, here’s my unspiritual thinking.

When I started work, aged 18, I used to work hard 9-5. I believed that by working for an employer, I was working for God. By working hard, I honoured my employer and thus honoured God.

If I got up early to pray or fast, I found I was not a good worker at the end of the day.

So I found a physically sustainable way to spend time with God; centring myself before God at the start of the day and reading Scripture. And then I sought to practise the presence of God through my day, looking for God in nature and friendship.

Now that I am in the pastoral ministry, I have brought these same work disciplines to my job; centring, reading Scripture, practicing the presence of God, looking for God in all I do.

Now that I am in ministry, I ask this simple question;
why should I pray more in this work for God, than when I worked for God before?

And I look at my pastor friends and ask another simple question;
Why should we fast before preaching,
when we don’t fast, before say, visiting a sick person, or typing up some church minutes, or playing “rough and tumble” with my children, or even, dare I say it, before making love to my spouses?

Do you get the drift? Why have we deemed that some activities are spiritual and demand more attention than others?

Or, have I lost the plot and am, indeed, an “unspiritual” pastor?

Posted by steve at 10:07 PM


  1. Good comments. I have two thoughts on this that might appear to oppose each other, but in fact, I think they complement each other well.

    First, there is something to be said for being in tune with the Spirit when you teach. Whether it takes early morning prayer or whatever (which I don’t really do either by the way), I try to be in a frame of mind where I can concentrate on what it is that the Spirit wants to communicate through me — both through my preparation and responding to what the Spirit does through the communication process.

    I also think, however, that the best preaching comes when we are merely speaking from what God has already done in our heart. Too many, I think, simply prepare a presentation, and then come across stiff. Yet, when you just have a conversation with them about what God is teaching them, you can see something beautiful at work. Isn’t the most spiritual preaching going to happen when we share about something that we ourselves are experiencing? The preparation for that doesn’t come at 5am, but for the previous 5 months before we do the teaching.

    The challenge is being at a place that you have enough going on in your life, that you have something to say from your heart on a weekly basis.

    Comment by john — September 5, 2004 @ 4:34 am

  2. “or even, dare I say it, before making love to my spouses?”
    is that a typo, or are you practising Old Testament polygamy?

    You sound pretty spiritual to me. Never could see the point of fasting myself.

    Comment by maggi — September 5, 2004 @ 5:13 am

  3. I think this is eminently sensible thinking. The practice of the presence of God is far more real to me than the idea of haranguing God for his special attention just at that particular minute. Like you, I believe he is intimately interested and involved in everything we do and are, not just the “Professional Christian” aspects of our ministry.

    Comment by Larraine — September 5, 2004 @ 9:26 pm

  4. I think God leads people to different styles of devotion and preparation. Maybe your friend needs to fast to keep his mind on Christ. If he knows that, good for him. In the past 18 months or so I’ve come to realize what it means to “practice the presence of God” and it’s really changed my life. But not everybody is on that particular path. And thank God He communicates through and with each of us differently.

    Comment by lisa — September 5, 2004 @ 11:04 pm

  5. Before I belonged to Jesus I fasted and there really wasn’t much more too it than pride. I’ve met other people (christian and non-christian) who seem to get off on some spiritual kick from fasting and like to let everyone know about it. Well, I think fasting is a healthy discipline, but it can also be that those who were the most debauched in their “pre-pious” days end up being the most fervently over the top fasting and weeping kinds of christians. Maybe people take themselves way too seriously – especially those who are speakers. Perhaps all the tremblings because they didn’t eat their breakfast?

    Fasting is one of those things that should be integrated into our lives in some form or another, whether it be fasting from TV for a few weeks, or icecream and chocolate, or a day or two on retreat once or twice a year – but whatever form it takes it shouldn’t become a bid deal and it doesn’t measure the mice from the men. Keep on centering down Steve, and practicing the presence of God. And God save us from super-spiritual pastors.

    Comment by Andrew — September 6, 2004 @ 10:28 am

  6. Steve,

    I’m confused. Are you trying to make yourself spiritual or are you simply dogging those of us who trust in prayer and fasting?

    Comment by Ron — September 6, 2004 @ 5:14 pm

  7. Ron, my blog is titled “this blog is a work in process :: thoughts expressed are personal opinions, and are not necessarily final opinions” – I am doing neither of your options.

    this post is my thinking about my spirituality and the fact that I was feeling personally unsuitable for ministry, yet wanting to process those voices as to how much they should guide me.

    Comment by steve — September 6, 2004 @ 8:41 pm

  8. this guy at gapingvoid has a saying: “don’t compare your inside with their outside.” I would say it’s impossible to tell whether they’re spiritual by their fasting or by their doing a Brother Lawrence. it’s always more about why and how, less about what and when, I seem to have come to understand. let them fast. let them not fast. whether you are spiritual or not is between you and your Father. I think that he who loves is spiritual, for God is love, and God is Spirit.

    thank you for speaking honestly. I too am at a crisis point in my life, yelling silently whether I’m cut out for this thing. do I qualify? and the answer, as it so often seems to be, is a maddening, “no but yes.” but that’s what keeps me dependent on God. it’s a scary time, but that’s where the fun is, as long as Jesus is in the boat with me. thanks for listening.

    and, like Maggi, I’m interested to know, what’s up with that “spouses” thing? : ).

    Comment by Alpha — September 7, 2004 @ 5:36 am

  9. yeah
    wazzup with the spouses thing dear?


    Comment by the one true spouse — September 7, 2004 @ 9:05 am

  10. My hypothesis is that the sentence was written in the plural (it seems to start that way) then partly got changes to “my”.

    Comment by Eric — September 9, 2004 @ 9:14 pm

  11. There is nothing important to have a friend who can pray for you especially a pastor.

    Comment by Pastor A.B. Chinyamu — April 22, 2005 @ 8:38 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.