When I was growing up the Reverend George Good was known in our family as 'Uncle George'. Although I was too young to appreciate his excellent preaching I could see what sort of man he was. In his book on 1 Timothy Ajith Fernando refers to George as 'the pastor of my teenage years who influenced me in the beauty of godliness.'
I think it was when he arrived in Enniskillen that George told the congregation 'I am your servant, but you are not my master.' I was thinking about that last night as we drove back from Limerick.
In some senses we might want to add qualifications to this statement. I would want to point out that I am not simply the servant of those who are members of the congregation, I also want to serve those in the community that surrounds us. I would also want to point out that although I am saying that the congregation is not my master this does not mean that I consider myself above being held to account.
However, taken in a non-absolute way this statement is genius. Pastors seek to serve. They are to have a sacrificial attitude towards the flock that they have been entrusted with. Yet the congregation can not ultimately set their agenda. Their aim ought not simply be to keep people happy. Their desire must be to please God and preform their duties in the way that he directs.
In the coming weeks I am going to post some comments on what I believe to be the biblical role for those in pastoral ministry.