Here are the final two points from Gerald Hiestand essay “Six Practical Steps toward Being a Pastor Theologian” from the book The Pastor as Public Theologian (Baker Academic) by Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan. This is part three of a three-post series.
“Don’t forget that theology exists for the church—your own church first and foremost! If the people in your congregation don’t feel valued as your first priority, then you are being a poor pastor-theologian, regardless of how smart you become. Your congregants should feel like your study time is about them, not simply your next writing project or sermon. If they start to begrudge you your study time (e.g., ‘He spends all his time holed up in his office’), you will need to take a hard look at yourself and your priorities. It is very likely that your study time isn’t really as much about God and his kingdom as you think it is. Theology serves the church, not the other way around. Love for God and his people should drive us to our books. If love for God and our congregations isn’t the fuel that powers our study, then what are we really studying for?
Stop calling the place where you work an ‘office’ and start calling it your ‘study.’ Never, under pain of excommunication from the pastor-theologian club, refer to your study as an ‘office.’ If this is the first time you’re heard this rule, you get three free passes to break the habit. After that, your pastor-theologian license will be suspended. Semantics matter. If you call your study an office, the people in your church will have a certain set of expectations regarding what you do during the day. If you refer to it as your study, they will come to have a different set of expectations. The room with all your books, where you read the Scriptures and pray—that room is your study. Start referring to it as such, and your people will come to expect that studying is part of your calling.”