The Burden of the Load

Baskets & Bicycle in Myanmar.

Ignorance, Judging, and All the Stuff Beyond That

by Eric Elkin

[Every High Priest]… is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness;
— Hebrews 5:2

“Desired skills: the ability to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward.” Funny, but I have yet to find this posted on any seminary website as a necessity for pastoral leadership. Nor have I seen a church list it on their profile when searching for a new pastor.

Seminaries tend to look for dynamic leaders and creative thinkers. People willing to respond to God’s call to serve the Church. Congregations want good sermons and a leader who can attract children and adults to worship. Let’s face it, dealing with the ignorant and wayward is just not a sexy qualifier.

The High Priest is gentle in dealing with the ignorant because he himself is ignorant. That makes sense since almost everyone knows an ignorant pastor. They tend to be hypocrites who say one thing but do another. They get up in front of people and talk about love and forgiveness. Then judge, condemn and talk about the same people behind their backs. They play favorites, speaking well of people they like, and talking poorly of those they do not.

I know people have met ignorant pastors because they’ve told me. Matter of fact, you don’t even need to go to church or believe in Jesus to know one. When the ignorant pastor is not present, the people will tell me of the pastor’s hypocrisy. They will cite all of the pastor’s shortcomings and how they destroyed people of faith. These pastors just don’t know how to love and forgive like the people speaking. The ignorant pastor is not like the beloved pastor they adore. Are you catching my drift here?

We as people, whether clergy or not, tend to model the same behavior we condemn. There is one noticeable difference when it comes to pastors. They carry the burden of people’s sins. It is a burden they take on because it is their role to listen to your wounds. The load is demanding because pastors are broken and have their own sins to carry.

In Temple worship, the High Priest was the one who carried the burden of the people’s sins into the holiest of holies. Once inside, he made a sacrifice so the whole community would be forgiven. Today, we are reminded Jesus is our High Priest. He carries our burden and is gentle in dealing with the ignorant and wayward. I’m thankful for this reminder because I am the ignorant, broken pastor in need of new life. How about you?

Click to read: Hebrews 5: 1-10

Reflection Questions:

  • Who was an ignorant pastor in your life?
  • What made this pastor irritating?
  • How have you modeled the same behaviors?
  • How does admitting our brokenness and receiving forgiveness lead to new life?

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