Friends and the Flock

Many of you who know me well will be quick to understand what this entry will be about. How does one’s relationship with people change when they enter or change into a new profession, particularly one which carries with it authority? In my case, my entry into ministry in the last few years. From a fellow pew-warming buddy to the Bible-bashing preacher, what impact does this have on my friendships and what impact does it have when people meet me for the first time and discover what I do, rather than who I am?

Personally, I’m not a fan of being known for what I do, that in itself gains greater definition when one knows who I am. As such, I would like to think that with all my friends, I have always ministered to them in various ways (be it through encouragement, correction and rebuke, prayer, sharing of God’s Word, etc.) before formally entering into the ministry.

My definition and understanding, therefore, of a person in ministry (be it the reverend, bishop, pastor, minister, even the Pope himself) is that they are ones who exemplify what it means to be a Christian. Sure, they have particular tasks which they fulfil, but I believe that is secondary to the role they play as shepherds of the flock. Why do I say that? Because Jesus Christ is THE Shepherd, those of us in ministry are but fellow sheep journeying with the flock under his delegated authority.

For me, then, it is particularly frustrating when I am introduced to new people as the pastor, youth worker, or somehow connected with the ministry. That is not who I am. Similarly, when I meet new people rarely do I ask what they do till I’ve discovered a bit of who they are. Who we are as people is not defined by what we do! (Nor who we’re related to…as one kid was quick to realise, just because he’s the pastor’s kid doesn’t mean I’ll treat him differently – he got a smack over the head for that one.)

Well, who am I? Well, that would be a book in itself and words would do it no justice compared to interacting with me on a regular basis (yes, this is a subtle note to say: send me an email, call me, have a coffee…hehe). Look at the people around you, do you know who they are? Or simply what they do and what they are good at? The friend’s brother or sister you see all the time, do you see them for who they are, or are they the sibling that’s always there? Who am I to you?