Chinese Church Voices

What Does It Mean to Be a Pastor?

Chinese Church Voices is a weekly column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

In the article below, translated from the Gospel Times, the author (a pastor) reflects on what it means to be a pastor, particularly in a society that knows and understands little about the profession.

Is Being a Pastor a Mysterious Profession in China? What Does It Mean When I Say I'm a Pastor?

I am a pastor. When people find out that is my job, they are often shocked. “You are a pastor?”

Then they follow with funny questions: Why did you choose to become a pastor? Do you host weddings? What do you do in your daily life? Do you host communion everyday? Why don’t you wear a robe?

Even today, people still view the pastorate as a mysterious profession. Every time I attend a social activity and introduce myself as a pastor I can feel people staring at me strangely.

Pastors are not mysterious; rather, we are, as the Bible says, still human.

But sometimes I think, what exactly do pastors do? Since I have been a pastor for so many years, it should be clear to me. I have been to seminary, served in the church for many years, and even seen it grow. Do I still need to answer this question?

In fact, I constantly need to answer this question. I need to think about my role in serving God and the church. Without a good definition of that role, I don’t think I can be a good pastor.

First, a pastor is like a teacher. Many believers tell me: "your sermons are good.” Before seminary, I studied in a teacher’s university, and I was a teacher in seminary. As teachers, we give lessons and resolve problems. A pastor is a teacher who preaches God’s truth correctly and helps believers grow. No wonder a believer once said to me, “I think pastors, not just teachers, are engineers of the soul.” But should a pastor only be good at preaching? Today we see many eloquent, passionate preachers; but are they real shepherds?

Secondly, as a pastor, it is a joy for me to accompany brothers and sisters in their daily lives. Standing beside them in their most critical life moments is one of the most challenging parts of my job. I officiate at their weddings and pray for their newborn children. I am there when they have serious problems in life. I listen to couples arguing in front of me. I am with them when they are sick or dying, and I perform their funerals. As a pastor, I walk with them from birth to death. Because of all that, being a pastor is the most meaningful and joyful job.

Finally, the pastor’s most important role has to do with the believer’s heart. He is a caregiver empowered by God. He uses words, sincere prayers, and knowledge, under the guidance of God, to care for believers.

This care is not just psychological, but is deeply spiritual and sympathetic. It is done under God’s authority, and is not for personal gain. We are not like psychologists who charge for help. The people in our care are not just our relatives and friends. We use God’s love to support and encourage them. What we provide is pastoral care. We are really shepherds.

I am very busy because the Chinese church has a lot of believers and not enough pastors. I am very tired because the believers have many needs.

But I am also filled with joy seeing people change and grow, and knowing that people are experiencing God’s love because of my work.

Busy, tired, and happy. That’s me, a pastor!

Original article in Chinese: 吴兵牧师:当我说我是牧师,意味着什么? (Gospel Times)
English Translation:  Is Priest a Mysterious Profession in China? What Does It Mean When I Say I'm a Priest? (China Christian Daily)
Adapted and edited with permission.

ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Team

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