A week or so ago, I came across some notes that Eric Keck provided from a meeting he had with Richard Foster. Two things stood out as extremely relevant to our community of faith.
First, is Foster’s definition of a pastor. Our American Christian culture has redefined the pastor as a CEO of an organization, a dynamic public speaker, a therapist, or a combination of the three. Yet, I think Foster hits the nail on the head when he states that a pastor is someone who “discerns what each person’s spiritual need is and helps them achieve it or capture it.” In this light, a pastor is a spiritual director who is both sensitive to the person’s needs and God’s activity in that person’s life. He or she is not the dispenser of knowledge, but a coach who helps each person discover Christ in a fresh way, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3).
Second, Foster gives his guidelines for relationships. I think this is an essential and practical aspect of embodying God’s fullness and kingdom. Relationships are the key infrastructure of God’s kingdom, since that is where divine love is embodied and experienced. Foster states that in dealing with others:
Encourage – always
Advise – once in a great while
Rebuke- only when absolutely necessary
Condemn – never
All I can say is “Brilliant!”