Continuing on from a series of posts (part one, part two)
“There really is no such thing as a herdsman who takes care of a generic herd.” I think those were the exact words that my friend Mike used when describing West African herdsman. He should know. He has lived there for a long time. The herdsmen know their herd, know their cows/animals individually, know who’s a part of the herd and who’s not. If they don’t know their herd, they really aren’t herdsmen! I’ve not forgotten the conversation. It reminds me of the calling I have to Ogletown, and certainly has shaped my priorities in being here. I was not called to pastor a theoretical flock, or a generic flock, but was called to be here, with these particular sheep that comprise our church.
I have mentioned in recent days that the process of being called here was somewhat of an “arranged marriage.” I didn’t know the congregation well, and the congregation did not know my family well. However, in one day (and one vote) our spiritual lives were knit together. In an arranged marriage (at least some of them), I would imagine that it takes some time to get to know each other. I KNOW it takes time, because my marriage wasn’t pre-arranged by my parents, and it has taken me time to get to know Shawna.
The last four years that I have been at Ogletown have been a season of getting to know each other. It hasn’t been entirely easy because of size and the fact that we live in four states. There are a lot of people who call OBC home, and often my only interaction with many of these people is on Sunday morning (which always seems busy). Every now and then, I will be able to sit down during the week with someone and hear their own personal story of faith, and many aspects of their journey. I have valued those times, and believe that God has drawn me closer to this congregation as a result. I am glad for the times when I can speak to individuals. My prayer (and hope, and ambition) has always been that I won’t fall in the rut of being a “generic” pastor.
In addition, I have prayed often that God would give me insight into OBC as a whole: that I might be able to discern our church’s strengths and weaknesses. That I might know when we need still waters or the rod/staff. That I might have understanding as to why God has placed us here and what specific purpose we might fulfill (as well as the purposes that God has called all churches to fulfill). I feel like if I am just someone who can ‘plug and play’ readily in any church environment, I would miss a vital aspect of my calling here. I am called to THIS church for THIS season to grow together with THESE sheep. I am grateful for the opportunity.