To Be A Pastor

To be a pastor
is to return, every
week, to face the hungry
crowds. To offer, in outstretched
and shaking hands, two loaves
and five fishes, knowing full well
it will never be enough.

You are not the one
who multiplies. You
are Elijah’s widow,
scraping handfuls of meal
from a nearly empty jar,
praying as the oil slips out
in slow and shining droplets.

To be a pastor,
you must brave the humility
of not enough, bringing what
has been given – no more,
no less – and waiting, weekly,
for the miracle of God’s
blessing, breaking,

- K. Chripczuk

* I wrote this poem several weeks ago and have been pondering it ever since.  In one sense, I believe it's true - accurate - and, in another sense, it's not.  There are times when there's more than enough.  I think my main intention was to get at my belief that ministry (in particular preaching) is less about me and what I bring, and more about obedience to God, especially when that obedience means intentional restraint and the discipline of always pointing beyond my self to something/someone more. This phrase, "You are not the one who multiples," is essential.

Reading through again, I see also how this poem might apply to parenting - the acceptance that what we have will never be enough, not completely, combine with the faithfulness of offering it anyway day-in and day-out. Perhaps the poem was written with pastoring (preaching) in mind, but it articulates a faith posture that's more widespread. 

What do you think?  Pastor or not, I'd love to hear your impression. 


  1. I had a thought about God today that your poem resonates with. It started when I read this quote by Pope Francis: “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”

    And this is what I thought: To see God in the weakest, the most vulnerable, the least deserving seems less challenging to me that to see the weakness, the vulnerability, the undeserving in God. Perhaps that is the real reason God became a human being as part of a poor, conquered, despised people. Perhaps that is the reason for God allowing pain and suffering and disasters. So we don’t delude ourselves into thinking God is only the bright and beautiful, the perfect and majestic, the kindly and benevolent, easy to love and adore. God is so much more - and so much less than that.

    I think something similar applies to pastors - we often slip into imagining them to have so much MORE - blessings, closeness to God, favor in God’s eyes, ability to help - when so often they struggle, in faith, to do more with their little.

    1. Thanks for those thoughts, Adrienne. I think it does have to do with our flawed perception and the illusions we cling to - so often we misjudge the value of ourselves and others because there is much about the nature of this world that I believe we do not yet or often understand.