Rachel Hackenberg–The myth about pastors

The myth about pastors, simply stated, is that we are helpers; that ours is a helping profession, counted alongside doctors and nurses and emergency responders and teachers and social workers.

Over and over again in my ministry, however, I am reminded that pastors are not helpers. We are not fixers or healers or solvers. We do not, cannot, provide help. Which may sound shocking, because people often turn to pastors for help … and pastors, in turn, like to think that they provide concrete help to others. But no, it is all a myth.

A story might add some explanation to my myth-busting….

Read it all.


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, United Church of Christ

5 comments on “Rachel Hackenberg–The myth about pastors

  1. Ian+ says:

    Pardon my German, but that’s stier scheisse! Maybe in the agnostic or unitarian world of the UCC a pastor is a walk-with-er, but in the Church of Jesus Christ a pastor/priest is a proclaimer of the Gospel and a minister of the Sacraments and the presence of Jesus himself in every situation. She essentially sees herself as drawing pay for doiing nothing but having coffee with congregants. I’m sorry, but I have no patience for clergy who don’t see their role as, to use the old-fashioned term, ministers of the Gospel with all that it implies. I know for certain that God has used my ministry- all facets of it- to reach into the souls of his people, probably more often in ways I’ve not been aware of at the time. The UCC, and its Canadian sister the United Church of Canada, is the religion of my mother’s family and the setting where I was baptized. But I have no time for their lukewarm fuzziness. True, there are many members who are zealous for the faith, but on the whole, it has gone very far down the garden path. (Sorry for the rant, but I had to get it out!)

  2. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    I, likewise, have some mixed reactions to this article. On the one hand, I do agree with her that Pastors/priests are not called to be secular social service workers or clinical psychiatrists or other general hand holding fuzziness, if that’s what it means when people say clergy are in the “helping profession,” as if we are some sort of walking self-help manual.

    However, we do help by proclaiming the gospel and being Christ’s hands in the world. If we are helping the poor and feeding the widow in Christ’s name, I would say that’s a bit of help.

  3. driver8 says:

    I think I’d look at the Ordinal to get an inkling of what Anglicans think God calls priests (to use the language of 1662) to do:

    how weighty an Office and Charge ye are called: that is to say, to be Messengers, Watchmen, and Stewards of the Lord; to teach, and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family; to seek for Christ’s sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever.

    Have always therefore printed in your remembrance, how great a treasure is committed to your charge. For they are the sheep of Christ, which he bought with his death, and for whom he shed his blood. The Church and Congregation whom you must serve, is his Spouse, and his Body. And if it shall happen that the same Church, or any Member thereof, do take any hurt or hindrance by reason of your negligence, ye know the greatness of the fault, and also the horrible punishment that will ensue. Wherefore consider with yourselves the end of the Ministry towards the children of God, towards the Spouse and Body of Christ; and see that ye never cease your labour, your care and diligence, until ye have done all that lieth in you, according to your bounden duty, to bring all such as are or shall be committed to your charge, unto that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there be no place left among you, either for error in religion, or for viciousness in life.

  4. driver8 says:

    Or if you want – the priest bears an aweful responsibility for the salvation through Christ of the people of the parish. (And of course for 1662 that means every inhabitant within his parish boundaries).

  5. MichaelA says:

    I concur with all the above, well said.