A Friendly Wager and the Role of Pastor

by Jacob Juncker

It started as a friendly wager with my wife.  “You’ve wanted to get in shape,” she said about 9 months ago. “Now that we’re expecting (our first biological child), you should really think about following through.  I bet you can’t lose as much weight as I gain during pregnancy?”  Being a sucker and liking a good challenge, I took her up on the bet, but did nothing.  I did not air up the tires on my bike.  I did not start walking to work.  I did nothing: thinking I’d have plenty of time to lose 8 lbs  (what I suspected the average size of a newborn to be).  Then I found out that the average woman gains 25-35 lbs during her pregnancy.[1]  “Crap, crap, crap,” I thought.  “It is time to get busy.”

I’ve never been real good at “getting in shape.”  It takes a great deal of intentionality on my part (there are a 1000 other things I could do to keep myself busy: like eating chips and salsa all day on the couch while watching Star Trek).  So, after several months of prodding/jesting from Chandra, I researched area gyms and trainers.

I knew I needed someone (other than my wife or another family member) to listen to my goals, help me devise a plan to meet my goals, and motivate me to realize my goals.  I found a gym and a trainer.  Thanks to the trainer’s ability to listen, teach, and motivate me, I am stronger than I have been in years.  And, to date, I’ve lost about 10 lbs.

As I think about my role as a pastor in The United Methodist Church, I find many parallels between the role of my trainer and my understanding of the pastorate.  I’m convinced, congregations need someone “from the outside” to listen, teach, and motivate.  Congregations need

  1. a pastor-trainer who is called to listen: to understand the congregation’s present situation and desired outcomes (mission).
  2. a pastor-trainer who is called to teach: to help the congregation devise and implement a plan (vision) for achieving the desired outcome (mission).
  3. a pastor-trainer who is called to motivate (i.e. cheer lead): to remind the congregation of the desired outcome (mission & vision) when the “going gets tough” and to celebrate successes (no matter how insignificant they may seem) as the desired outcome (mission) is realized.

At this moment, as I seek to better understand my calling to ordained ministry as an elder in The United Methodist Church, I find this model of pastor-trainer to be helpful (at least right now).  And, as I seek to be in-formed, I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Is the pastor-trainer understanding helpful in defining the role of the pastor? What other similarities do you see between a pastor and a trainer?

[1] “Pregnancy And Weight Gain,” WebMD.com <http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/healthy-weight-gain> Accessed June 10, 2012.