Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Long Pastorate


In my morning devotions and prayers this morning I ran across this excerpt from John Watson's "The Cure of Souls". It both warmed my heart and filled me with a profound sense of my own inadequacies as a pastor. If you're not in the ministry but you are a Christian, reading this quote may give you a picture of what to expect, in the best case, from your pastor. If you are a minister, there's a vision of pastoral work here that it is truly rare these days. If you're not a Christian, I hope this quote shows you what Christian leaders should look like. But for all of us: isn't this appealing?

One's heart goes back from this eager, restless, ambitious age to the former days, and recalls with found recollection the pastor of his youth, who had lived al his ministry in one place, and was buried where he was ordained--- who had baptized a child, and admitted her to the sacrament, and married her and baptized her children-- who knew all the ins and outs of his people's character, and carried family history for generations in his head-- who was ever thinking of his people, watching over them, visiting their homes, till his familiar figure on the street linked together the past and the present, and heaven and earth, and opened a treasure house of sacred memories. He prayed with a lad before he went away-- his mother could almost repeat the words; he was constantly inquiring about his welfare, so binding him to his faith and home by silken ties; he was in the house on the day of his return, to see how it had fared with him in the outer world. People turned to him as by an instinct in their joys and sorrows; men consulted him in the crises of life, and, as they lay a-dying, committed their wives and children to his care. He was a head to every widow, a father to the orphans, and the friend of all the lowly, discouraged, unsuccessful souls. Ten miles away people did not know his name, but his own congregation regard no other, and in the Lord's presence it was well known, it was often mentioned; when he laid down his trust, and arrived on the other side, many whom he had fed and guided, and restored and comforted, till he saw them through the gates, were waiting to receive their shepherd-minister, and as they stood around him before the Lord, he, of all men, could say without shame, 'Behold, Lord, thine under-shepherd, and the flock thou didst give me.

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