There is a distinct difference!
If you missed this article, “The #1 Complaint Of Preachers,” you may want to go back and catch it. It was written in response to a message which included a contention that God’s people need to quit making the complaint they are not getting fed — and they get to the place where “they pick up the fork — take off the bib — get out of the high chair — and feed themselves.”
The audience responded with applause when the point was made, which only supports my belief that God’s people will easily follow their pastor and believe what he says, even when he is taking a position which the Scriptures do not take.
God’s people, no matter how consistent in personal Bible study, need a regular and consistent local church experience which feeds them a good-to-great meal!
Perhaps, the topmost argument, not included in that previous article, is . . . .
Even pastors, who are in the Word deeply and consistently, need to hear from other Bible teachers and pastors to be strengthened, refreshed, encouraged, and inspired!
God’s people have a right and indeed need to be fed. When they say that they are not being fed, it is a rightful criticism which ought to be considered and not marginalized, dismissed, or explained away by pointing back to what may be an honest or accurate critic.*
I closed with an analogy which accurately reflects the responsibility of a pastor-preacher-teacher. It is reproduced and amplified here.
While the average person has some knowledge of cooking and/or baking, that knowledge is on a different level than that of “the professionals.” “The Professionals” and many many others who aspire to become such, have decided to make “cooking” a lifetime endeavor!
In contrast . . . .
As a child grows up, he or she learns a lot from mom and dad about some (perhaps many) of the elements of cooking . . . .
- food preparation
- equipment and utensils
- food implement techniques
- food safety
- a general knowledge of soups, appetizers, salads, side dishes, entrees, desserts, and breads.
- dietary considerations
Over a period of years, he or she will “graduate” to operating his-hers own kitchen, for him-herself or his-hers own family.
Some of those children will become really adept at some or several of the various elements of cooking.
Some will develop great skills . . . .
in preparation, but not in serving (Taste good, but not looking great)
in safety but not in planning (No one has ever gotten sick!)
in cooking but not in baking (Great grilling, but obviously store bought pies)
in baking, but not in safety (Some are becoming a little wary and cautious.)
in cooking, but not in nutrition (Terrific comfort food! Gaining a little too much weight)
However, there are times when the best of home cooks still want to experience a meal prepared by a professional! Perhaps because of that professional’s . . . .
ability to blend spices
use of spices previous unknown or untasted
knowledge in selecting a cut of meat
skill in trimming and preparing that cut of meat
ability to select “sides” which go so well with this-or-that selected main dish
unique and singular expertness to make a dish like no one else
proficiency in a particular genre of food
gift of presentation savvy — It always looks so appetizing!
aptitude for providing such a balanced meal
understanding of all the elements — planning, foods, safety, preparation, presentation, etc.
Or it is nice to enjoy a meal out because . . . .
it is just so nice to have someone else prepare a meal which can be enjoyed and not “slaved over” — It doesn’t require our time, preparation, or effort!
The role of a “professional chef” is not just a knowledge of . . . .
- the nature, taste, & effects of the various spices
- how to butcher a cut of meat
- how to filet a fish
- the cuts of meat and the character of those cuts
- the variety of vegetables available from around the world
- the effects of adding, including, this or that item
- the difference between various flours, spices, condiments, sauces
- the nature and options for proper food measurement
All that knowledge is necessary, but it does not portend that a “professional chef” can put together a good-to-great dish. That explains one of the reasons that going to culinary school does not yield a fairly sure and steady stream of outstanding chefs.
While there are more outstanding chefs which culture or society may not and do not recognize, there are also many who know a lot and work hard in the kitchen, who really never succeed or succeed at a very limited level.
They are better than many other “professionals,” or better than many of the highly motivated “home kitchen” cooks. They have a level of “success.”
Sometimes, some “succeed” . . . .
◊ at “one” particular dish — It is called “their signature dish.”
◊ with a particular audience — They are a “private chef” for a particular family and/or have a small circle of employs
◊ as a sous chef — They have great kitchen skills which can provide great support.**
◊ with a certain genre of food — They are really good when it comes to Asian, or Latin spices and dishes.
◊ in just providing an enjoyable dining experience — It is just a very pleasant experience to eat at their place or to get to know them personally.
◊ at making it a “safe” & solid experience — No one has to every worry that they do not operate by the rules! They offer basic food, and the message is “clean & good.”
◊ at providing a very pleasing and pleasant atmosphere and setting — It isn’t noisy, or over-crowded. When you leave, you enjoyed being there.
◊ providing a “feast” — You leave after eating all the food you can eat. You leave with a bag of food in hand!
Likewise, God’s people need a “Professional Chef.” Someone who has the knowledge AND the ability to take that knowledge and turn it into a good-to-great meal!
Sometimes, some “pastors” are good-to-great . . . .
◊ at “one” particular dish — Their signature dish is “evangelistic” messages.
◊ with a particular audience — They are great with struggling churches which need to get back on their feet after a terrible situation.
◊ as an assistant chef — They have great kitchen skills which can provide great support for the Sr. or “Lead” pastor.
◊ with a certain genre of food — They are really good when it comes to messages about family, youth, or evangelism.
◊ in just providing an enjoyable experience — It is just a very pleasant experience to attend that church and/or to get to know them personally.
◊ at making it a “safe” & solid experience — No one has to ever worry that they are not right down the middle of the road theologically! They speak within the boundaries of basic doctrines and do not get pulled into theological “weird-ism.” The message was “average,” but solid.
◊ at providing a very pleasing and pleasant atmosphere and setting — The church isn’t noisy, or over-crowded. When you leave, you enjoyed being there, having listened to an average message.
◊ providing a “feast” — The church has a wide variety of teachers, and preachers, along with an endless opportunity for service and ministries.
In light of this analogy (which may have some weaknesses in application), let me draw some final points which relate to what the task of a pastor is and is not.
There is a difference between the kitchen and the dining experience!
◊ Being good or great in the “kitchen” is not equivalent to providing a great meal. It is necessary, but it is not sufficient, nor is it corresponding.
◊ What was done in the “kitchen” is not what the audience needs to be informed about to enjoy the meal. A few of those details may well be shared (the duck was flame broiled, over a cherry wood baking oven, while basted with butter and a special mixture of Asian spices — note: I don’t know anything about cooking a duck this way).
◊ The chef is not selling all or most of what took place in the “kitchen.” He is selling the result of all or most of what took place in the “kitchen.”
◊ The “meal” is a combination of the various elements of cooking. It is a sum of all its parts and is distinct from any one part. It is the final “art form” of all that came together.
◊ Those who came didn’t come for a tour of the “kitchen.” Don’t give those dining a tour of what took place in the kitchen, and thereby fail to serve them a good-to-great dinner.
◊ Don’t believe that the audience must have both a tour of the kitchen AND a good-to-great dinner. What gets you excited, as a professional chef, is different from what they get excited about. If you have a group of other professionals, they will be interested! To others, it may be less than interesting (i.e., tedious or tiresome?).
◊ The dinners came for the meal. If they never hear about the kitchen, that’s probably okay. They will still leave satisfied with the dinner. That is the bottom line in operating a good-to-great restaurant.
AND before I close . . . .
It should be said, that there are also more outstanding pastors, which culture or society may not and do not recognize. Even though they do not operate at some of the most well-known or visible levels, they are as effective and “successful” as many other great teachers-pastors-preachers!
The “meal” is a combination of the various elements of cooking.
It is a sum of all its parts, and it is distinct from any one part.
Keep working in the “kitchen.”
Separate the “kitchen” from the “dining room.”
They are not the same!
Don’t make them the same.
Continue to make the meal a “good-to-great” dinner!
*Of course, it can be the spiritual health of the critic which accounts for the criticism! But it can be the ability — or spiritual health — of the speaker-teacher-preacher as well!
** “A Sous Chef is second in command after the Executive Chef in a professional kitchen. This means he or she answers to the chef, but also has some authority over the other kitchen staff.”