What Is The Pastor's Job?
What is the pastor's job?
The answer is simple but few people seem to know it. In common Lutheran lingo the pastor is Called to "preach the Word and administer the Sacraments". While not untrue it is like saying that the organist's job is to push buttons. The organist's job is not simply to push buttons, or even to read music (though he does these things). But his job is to make music for God's people by which they offer right praise.
In a word it is the pastor's job to lead the baptized in the worship of God, which is man's chief duty. When you see your pastor at the altar consecrating the bread and wine, and feeding God's people with Christ's flesh and blood, you are seeing him engaged in the high point of his work. Everything else he does either leads to this, or proceeds from it.
But closely surrounding this unique work (that only the ordained pastor is qualified to do by divine Call) are other vital matters. The pastor leads God's people in a full Service of worship which includes the all-important prayer of confession; and then he absolves the repentant of their sins. This absolution is as sure and certain in heaven as if Christ our dear Lord were standing here giving it himself.
The pastor remits death sentences, breaks the iron fetters of guilt, shame, self-loathing and self-pity, and gives people a new lease on life. He leads the baptized Bride in prayer, praise, thanksgiving and confession of faith. He gives voice to Holy Scripture in the church's assigned readings and then in the sermon explains and teaches what is heard. He does all these things in accord with the church's doctrine and practice, ever vigilant that nothing goes awry.
But long before Sunday he is already in deep study and prayer preparing to inoculate his flock against the devil, world and flesh. He is always learning new things and gaining deeper understanding, all for the benefit of the flock God has assigned him to serve and safeguard.
One of his important jobs is to teach Scripture, doctrine and church practice. All to the end that God's people might better know and love God, and worship him in Spirit and Truth. Such study can be compared to dancing lessons. But worship is the dance.
As there is preparation before Sunday, there is work to be done after Sunday. The gifts of the altar need to be taken to the sick, the troubled and the poor. The pastor must visit, counsel, pray for people and lay hands of blessing on them to strengthen them in every infirmity of body or soul.
His Call isn't only to his parish either. But he meets with fellow pastors for the "mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren." He does all he can, along with them, to keep the ship of church from springing leaks, and taking on the world's water. As the saying goes: "When the boat is in the water all is well, but when the water is in the boat there is danger."
And he must rest, too.
And so at the top of the pyramid of the pastor's work is the Eucharist; bringing Christ's baptismally-washed Bride into Holy Communion with him. But as every pyramid must have a tip, every tip must also have a pyramid beneath it.
Often the pastor is willing and able to do other related tasks such as print bulletins, or keep church records; and some are better than others at such organizational tasks. But these must never take away from the work of his Call as outlined above.
May God strengthen pastors to know and do their work, and congregation to know and do its work which is to worship God, love one another, keep the House of God afloat and see to the support of the pastor.