Pastoral Authority

My latest article for the Leadership Journal blog has been posted, “Pastoral Authority: Earned, Taken, or Granted?”  Typically I come up with the topics for these articles, but in this case Brandon suggested that a few of us tackle the theme of pastoral authority.  I’m glad he did.  This isn’t something I’d have thought to write about but the process helped me reflect on my own evolving views on the topic.

Pastor. In the eight years since this label first applied to me, it has been fascinating to notice who uses it and who doesn’t. The church that first entrusted the title to me was suburban, predominately white, and largely middle-aged. As a twenty-something associate pastor, I was mostly referred to by my first name. The lack of a title before my name suited me fine. At the time I was coming to grips with being a pastor and, frankly, the idea of regularly being identified as such by people ten to twenty years my senior was frightening.

In hindsight I realize there was something more to my timidity about this title. Being identified as a pastor carried with it a level of intimidating responsibility and authority that I felt I didn’t deserve. Surely I needed another ten years or so in the trenches before anyone could confidently call me their pastor. Being called simply by my first name was a relief, evidence in a way that I was still trying on this vocation to see if it fit.

Read the rest on the Leadership Journal blog.

Author: David Swanson

Pastor of New Community Covenant Church in Bronzeville. Collecting signs of life.

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