The New Professionalism
This is not the overstated professionalism of the three-piece suit and the power offices of the upper floors, but the understated professionalism of torn blue jeans and the savvy inner ring. This professionalism is not learned in pursuing an MBA, but by being in the know about the ever-changing entertainment and media world.
This is the professionalization of ambience, and tone, and idiom, and timing, and banter. It is more intuitive and less taught. More style and less technique. More feel and less force. If this can be called professionalism, what does it have in common with the older version? Everything that matters. The way I tried to get at the problem ten years ago was to ask some questions. Let me expand that list. Only this time think, old and new professionalism.
Is there professional praying?
Professional trusting in God’s promises?
Professional weeping over souls?
Professional musing on the depths of revelation?
Professional rejoicing in the truth?
Professional praising God’s name?
Professional treasuring the riches of Christ?
Professional walking by the Spirit?
Professional exercise of spiritual gifts?
Professional dealing with demons?
Professional pleading with backsliders?
Professional perseverance in a hard marriage?
Professional playing with children?
Professional courage in the face of persecution?
Professional patience with everyone?
These are not marginal activities in the pastoral life. They are vital.
The Heart of Ministry
Why do we choke on the word professional in these connections? Because professionalization carries the connotation of an education, a set of skills, and a set of guild-defined standards which are possible without faith in Jesus or the power of the indwelling Spirit of God.
Professionalism does not usually carry the connotation of being supernatural. But the heart of ministry is supernatural.
There is a professional way to crucify. But there is no professional way to be crucified. There were professionals on Golgotha. They were experts in torture. But Jesus was not one of them. For Paul, the ministry was more like being crucified than crucifying. “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17). “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). “I die every day!” (1 Corinthians 15:31). “For the sake of Christ I am content with weaknesses” (2 Corinthians 12:10). “He was crucified in weakness… we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God” (2 Corinthians 13:4). “We are the aroma of Christ… a fragrance from death to death… a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:15–16).
Pastors say, “Who is sufficient for these things!” And then they look to God. Professionals say, “Education and training and savvy are sufficient.” And then they look to experts.
Leaning on God for Effect
Pastors do not look to their eloquence for the supernatural fruit they long for. “My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4–5). Whatever gifts and eloquence a pastor may have, whatever preparations he makes, he looks away from them all to God for every spiritual effect.
(Taken from Still Not Professionals: Ten Pleas for Today’s Pastors.)