You’ve taken the survey, I’m sure. You know the one — where you find out if your gifts in ministry put you in the apostle, prophet, poet, or pastor category. I always want to be the apostle. I can see it now, all my emails begin —
“Chuck, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the saints in Chatham….”
Or something like that. And guess what — I usually score apostle on this test. I like the idea of being out there on the raw cutting edge of ministry, leading the charge to take the gospel to all the world. Then real life rears its head, and I am reminded that I am not on my third missionary journey — I’m on my way to the hospital to see a member facing surgery. Did Paul visit people in the hospital?
Or I’m at the nursing home talking with 103-year-old Pauline who can’t hear me unless I shout to the top of my lungs, but who always prays for me before I leave her room. You get the picture because if you’re a pastor, you do all this stuff too.
As much as I want to be the hard-charging, take-no-prisoners apostle of Jesus to a lost-and-dying world (insert your own cliche’ anywhere along here), I find that most of the time I’m the poet.
I’m the theological artist who helps people make sense of the canvas of their lives. I’m the interpretive reader who takes scripture and helps folks find the key to open that door of Word and Spirit. I’m the gentle voice in the raging storm, speaking life to those for whom death is a constant companion. I’m the poet. Like David.
Our Greenwich Village image of poets has overshadowed the Biblical image of David — pastor/shepherd, poet to sheep and people, fierce warrior, beloved king. David is a poet writing psalm songs which he sings to sheep and God, dancing wildly in his exuberant love for the God of Israel, his God. Giving a voice to his people as they cry out to God through his poems of praise and lament.
I’m aware that David probably didn’t write all the Psalms. But the people thought he did, which was their way of saying, “This sounds like something David would say.” It doesn’t matter whether David penned every word or not, his people thought he did. They knew he was a poet. And they loved him. I’m rethinking the apostle-thing. Maybe I’m a poet after all. Maybe you are too.