In my opinion every good story has certain archetypes associated with it. The archetypes have very little to do with whether or not the story is any good, after all I’m sure there are more examples than I care to count of really bad plots with poorly written or overly verbose prose that included these types. The point is we see them in the stories and without meaning to, or perhaps with every intention to do so, we find them in real life. My favorite and simultaneously most hated example of this is the wise and usually benevolent sage. I’m talking about Gandalf from Lord of the Rings or Dumbledore from Harry Potter. I’m talking about that stalwart pillar of wisdom and strength that turns one man into a solitary monolith marking the path for the brave hero.
So we then look at our own lives and so loving that image we project it onto our lives. We are the brave and persistent Hero of the story, but who is our stalwart pillar? Who guides us with infallible wisdom and never shows a sign of weakness?
For the Christian, the answer all too often is “the pastor.”
The Pastor is wise, Godly, has given us good counsel and advice in the past. The Pastor’s job is to shepherd the flock and guide us and grow us in our relationship with Christ so of course (s)he is the perfect person to fill this role in our lives right?
There are a lot of problems with this assumption but I’m going to stick with the most obvious. Who are you going to trust and lean on every single time: the human who is also trying to take care of every one else in the church, or Jesus?
Don’t get me wrong, the Pastor is a great resource and a great person to lean on in times of trouble, but that doesn’t mean (s)he can show you the secrets you need to learn to live the adventure. You might have a question about what a particular verse in Romans is getting at, but if someone in the congregation is in the hospital, I’ll let you guess where the Pastor’s focus is going to be.
Can you cling to the pastor, can (s)he be the stalwart pillar in your life to give you direction and guidance? Of course. But only to a point. And that point is Jesus.
I’m absolutely serious in what I’m saying here. It’s so easy to cling to a human who is present and in the flesh than it is to cling to Jesus who is present in Spirit but it is still necessary to put our feet on the solid foundation of Christ. We have to cling to him as our stalwart pillar rather than a human.
I don’t know, this one is kind of all over the place and I’ll probably read over it tomorrow and say “what in the world did I write?” but the point is that we (and by we I suppose I really mean “I”) cannot expect Gandalf to come back from the grave and lead us into battle at the last minute. Jesus already did that, and he’s waiting there with his banner for us to join him.