I once heard the story of a man who went into his doctor’s office. He told the doctor he needed help, because there was something seriously wrong. Everywhere he touched on his body gave him a shocking jolt of pain. The doctor asked him demonstrate, and watched closely as the man winced with every touch. After a few minutes, the doctor brightened, “Sir, you have a broken finger.”
It’s a silly story, I know. But I think it serves as a great illustration for one of the primary tasks of a pastor, we need to help people assess what is really happening when life is giving them pains. Far more importantly, we have to help them move towards the cure. Dependence upon God.
As I consider my duty to point people to the root of their issues, I think of a passage written by Eugene Peterson in his memoir, The Pastor.
In the secularizing times in which I am living, God is not taken seriously. God is peripheral. God is nice (or maybe not so nice) but not at the center. When people want help with their parents or children or emotions, they do not ordinarily see themselves as wanting help with God. But if I am going to stay true to my vocation as a pastor, I can’t let the “market” determine what I do. I will find ways to pray with and for people and teach them to pray, usually quietly and often subversively when they don’t know I am doing it. But I’m not going to wait to be asked. I am a pastor.
If we believe what we say we believe about who God is and how he works, we should be modeling, which is teaching, dependence upon God as the first step in any prescription.