Every Pastor a Potential Hero

This morning I came across this passage in Alexandre Vinet’s Pastoral Theology:

 “We must not fear to bring before us the gloomy view of the ministry. Let us say to ourselves that in this career heroism is necessary. All pastors ought to be heroes, for Christianity even in the people is heroism; a Christian is in spirit a hero, a hero potentially.”

 According to Vinet, one of the hindrances to ministry is a failure to expect difficulty: “The history of the Church is composed of a succession of troubles and of peace; and these periods are unforeseen. The deepest perturbations are not always announced by sure, and especially by distant presages. The sky is serene in the evening; the next day a storm bursts forth, and the stormy weather cannot be anticipated.”

 It is understandable that we should be alarmed when storms arise in ministry but we should not be surprised, as if something unusual were happening to us. The church’s normal condition, Vinet points out, is neither of absolute affliction nor absolute peace. The ministry is “a tempest of the spirit” (Gregory Nazianzen).