Article By: Curtis Beaird
Photography By: Norma W. Beaird
If you’re not a minister, you are free to skip this read. Or, read it and find out how your minister functions.
Ministers, preachers, priests, and those claiming to be part-time prophets seem to come in two styles today; those who take the preventative approach to ministry and those who take the therapeutic approach. The first is more aggressive. The second leans toward the suggestive and is passive with the message.
The more aggressive minister takes a preventative approach to ministry. They raise questions that are the constant "elephants in the room" that few care to address. While they sing Softly and Tenderly, they are as eager to sing ….Up From the Grave He Arose. They believe everything that is Biblically based can be included in their message and ministry. Initiative is their middle name.
When they see someone standing on a railroad track facing an oncoming train, they don't mind shouting a warning, "Get off the track!” They spend as much time announcing that folks should "prepare to meet their God" as they do meandering through the lilies of the valley.
The more passive minister takes a therapeutic approach to ministry. Basically, once we have a spill, they rush to do the obvious……clean up the mess.
Until she is pregnant, we don't talk about fornication. Until Bud gets his third DUI, we don't mention the disastrous effects of alcohol abuse. Until adultery or pornography ruins a marriage, we focus on locating the lost Jebusites or setting dates for the Second Coming.
The list of religious dodges is a long one. Why trouble a congregation? Ignore the suggestion that there are consequences of bad choices. Sidestep the pain associated with self-induced problems. Promise them that God will give them the desires of their heart. Promise them that a wave of blessings will follow in the wake of the offering plate. Dismiss as negative anything that illuminates the ambiguous nature of living.
The rules of engagement for the passive, therapeutic minister are simple: Wait, wait and wait. Let circumstance force action.
Aggressive ministers who engage in the preventative approach are not popular. No one questions their presence or wonders whose side they are on. They speak the name of God, not as a possibility, but as though all life flows from that one Name. Safety is not their first concern; proclamation is. They announce good news. But, that announcement makes clear the need for change. ....What? ....Change?
These awakeners raise the disturbing questions. They insist on Spirit as the presence of God rather than offering a simpering nostalgic hope for a bygone day of religion. When inevitable grief cracks open our illusions, the aggressive minister, even in tears, will assert the presence of God. "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
The aggressive minister makes us uncomfortable. They are the ones with a dream. While they can and will use the language of inclusion, that language includes the name of Jesus at the top of the list. We will find a reason to avoid them and their ways. They have little or no capacity for the politically correct approach. They ask too many questions. They may join your club, but they never actually belong.
The more passive minister who follows the therapeutic approach waits with hands quietly folded on the mop handle until the mess runs under the office door. The wait is seldom long.
He is wonderful with people and always understands everything. Drawing explanations from the language of inclusion, conversations tip toward the more psychological. The name of Jesus may not be included in the message of consolation. It will always be implied that we have the ability to manage. The capacity to nurture and listen is unparalleled. He is such calm in the storm. If their presence doesn't bring peace to the valley, it will, for a moment, insulate us from the wreckage we are left to pick up as soon as he is out the door.
While we would hope that a minister would recognize the need for both the preventative and the therapeutic, the prophetic and pastoral, it's just plain safer to wait for the mess.
Unfortunately, the Apostle Paul didn't get the memo.
II Timothy 4: 1 – 8 (King James Version)
1I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
6For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing
Copyright 2012, Curtis Beaird. All rights reserved.