>To Be or Not To Be Professional?!

Posted: January 3, 2011 in Religion

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In a sense, this week is about your stylistic engagement, both relationally and professionally. As you continue to explore self-awareness, “professional awareness” will also become part of the discussion.  Our dialogue is not one we will be able to finish in the remaining weeks of this course; however, it is one that we MUST begin. In a plea for pastors to purse the prophetic call of the Bible for radical ministry, John Piper (2002)
emphatically declares:
            Brothers, we are NOT professionals! We are outcasts. We are aliens
            and exiles in the world (1 Pet. 2:11). Our citizenship is in heaven, and        
we wait with eager expectation for the Lord (Phil. 3:20)….The aims of our ministry are eternal and spiritual….There is an infinite difference between the pastor whose heart is set on being the aroma of Christ, the fragrance of death to
some and eternal life to others (2 Cor. 2: 15-16). (pp. 2, 3)

Most definitely, Piper is on target! However, how do we as ministers of the Gospel and responsible under-shepherds develop such radical ministry in a postmodern world? How do we posture ourselves to personally ward off secularization and avoid the ethical
dilemmas embarrassing the ministerial kingdom of our Lord?
 Perhaps one of the reasons we continue to hear of ministerial failure and forced terminations is due to this reality: “Brothers, we are not Professionals!” Resurrecting the historic professionalism created by our ministerial fathers may be one of the boundary setting tools our great God wants to use in your pastoral counseling context. Though we do not have the time for a full discussion on professionalism and its tie to the spiritual formation of ministry leaders, delineating some basic parameters for your future investigation may be helpful. According to Trull and Carter (2004), professional awareness observes the
following boundaries:
  1. Education. The minister will prepare for Christian service by experiencing a broad liberal arts education, followed by specialized training in theology and ministry. Ministers will also be committed to a lifelong process of study and growth that prepares them for continued service (2 Tim. 2:15).
  2. Competency.  The church shepherd will develop and refine pastoral gifts and vocational skills in order to act competently in any situation that requires his or her services (1 Cor. 12:7-11; Eph. 4: 11-12).
  3. Autonomy. The minister is called to a life of responsible decision-making involving potentially dangerous consequences. As a spiritual leader, the minister will make decisions and exert pastoral authority in light of the servant-leader model exemplified by Christ (John 13:1-16).
  4. Service. The minister’s motivation for ministry will be neither social status nor financial reward, but rather agapē love, to serve others in Christ’s name (1 Corinthians 13).
  5. Dedication. The minister will “profess” to provide something of great value, the good news of God’s salvation and the demonstration of God’s love through Christian ministry. To these values the called of God is dedicated (Rom. 1: 11-17).
  6. Ethics. In relation to congregation, colleagues, and community, as well as in personal life, the ordained will live under the discipline of an ethic that upholds the highest standards of Christian morality (1 Tim. 3:1-7). (pp. 39, 40)

Glasse (1968) would concur with this effort to assist ministers in possessing what they profess to have.

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