One Key to Good Ministry: Balancing Prophet and Priest

In case you don’t read the whole post…at least catch the last paragraph

The Old Testament had a real emphasis on prophets, priests and kings. One of the big points made about Jesus was how he filled all three of those roles as no one else has or ever will be able to do. In ministry there are no “kings”, people who exert ultimate authority over the congregation with little to no accountability. There are times for ministers to act in line with the prophet and the priest. The prophet is the voice of challenge. He calls it like it is in an effort to keep people close to God. It might be a call for repentance or pointing out the places where Christianity or the congregation has an issue and seeks to provide a more righteous path through the issue toward righteousness. The minister in the role of priest acts in a more pastoral role, praying for the people and walking alongside them in their walk closer to Christ.

There are times people need the prophet. They need to be challenged and expose the issues we have for what they are. There are times when people need the priest…the voice of comfort and encouragement that brings them peace in tough times. There are two things that can really get a minister in a mess: 1) When a minister gets stuck in one role and doesn’t balance it with the other and 2) when the church needs one of these but keeps getting the other because the minister is out of touch from where people in the church are at in their faith and what they really need.

When a minister always finds themselves in the role of prophet to the exclusion of priest or priest to the exclusion of prophet the people either get beat to death with challenge and feel worn out (the minister who is the perpetual prophet, all challenge with no pastoral care) or made to be so comfortable that any hint of challenge and people get all bent out of shape (the minister who is perpetually the priest, all comfort and  encouragement with no challenge). Churches need ministers who understand the balance and know which season the congregation is in.

Last, this balance is needed in our social media. When you get online there are 1 million prophets who usually don’t actually see or at least present any meaningful path forward and about a dozen priests left to pick up the pieces. If you want to challenge and poke holes in things remember this, prophets in the Bible did point out what was wrong but that was almost always followed up with leading people to a meaningful path forward. If you aren’t willing to do the second, don’t try the first.

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