Titanicked? Not When in Hands of a Good Pastor

Mankading is a method of run out in cricket. A bowler dismisses a non-striker by hitting the bails before bowling when the latter is outside the crease. Kings XI Punjab captain and bowler Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Jos Butler in 2019’s edition of IPL (woe unto them if you are asking ‘what is IPL’!). This method gets its name from Vinoo Mankad who dismissed Aussie batsman Bill Brown in 1947 test match in Sydney, twice. The Oz press coined this method as mankading since there was no word for such dismissals in cricket vocabulary.

Taking a cue from ‘mankaded’, ‘Titanicked’ means ‘unable to guide all people on board to safety due to steering error’. Yes, you are right. This word is taken from the infamous Titanic ship. Controversies related to Titanic refuse to die. A recent book revealed something which has never come to light before—that Titanic hit the iceberg because the helmsman turned the ship’s wheel in the wrong way on its maiden voyage between Southampton and New York in 1912.

A pastor is the caring doctor of the spiritually sick congregation. He is a watchful soldier of the wayward congregation. He is the motivational speaker of the unmotivated congregation.

Now what has this to do with a pastor? A lot! Pastoring is not a stroll on a beach, nor a vacation on a cruise. A pastor is the caring doctor of the spiritually sick congregation. He is a watchful soldier of the wayward congregation. He is the motivational speaker of the unmotivated congregation. Pastor is a person in present who overlooks your ‘past’ to guide you to future possibilities. He is a guide to help reach the destination. Of course, he is lot more than this.

We seldom talk about pastor as the helmsman who steers the lives of the congregation to safety. We see pastor as a diakonos—servant of the gospel (Eph 3:7; Col 1:23); and servant of Christ (2 Cor 11:23). We know pastor as doulos —slave of Christ (Rom 1:1; Gal 1:10). We recognise pastor as oikonomos —steward of Christ (1 Cor 4:1).

Interestingly, Paul never pastored a church but he writes vehemently about his role in Christ’s body. He says that he brought people to ‘birth in Christ’ (1 Cor 4:15; Gal 4:19; 1 Tim 1:2) showing his close relationship with the congregation. Paul speaks of his calling as a minister with ‘priestly duty’ as gentiles might become his offering acceptable to God (Rom 15:16).

One of the neglected gifts mentioned in Rom 12:8 and 1 Cor 12:28 is mostly translated as ‘leadership’ or ‘administration’. In Greek literature it is the word used for a ship’s helmsman—the one who steers the ship. A pastoral role is to unite the people towards a common goal, growth and gesture through guidance, giving and gratitude.

A pastor is akin to a Phoenix who refuses to bite the dust, even if he is reduced to dust, he rises up for his congregation.

Eugene Peterson’s words that ‘ministry is messy’ rings so real when a pastor has to deal with the flaming arrows of the congregation while he is trying to steer them to safety. Remember Ziklag? A lot of zigzag happened at Ziklag. Emotions ran high and wild as we read that the wives and children of David’s men were taken captive by the invaders. vituperative blame game ensued and zeroed in on David as the culprit. David’s men were whatsapping among their group ‘to stone him’ (1 Sam 30:6) and possibly to vote him out as an admin (leader/helmsman). It is a self-defeating plot. Shipwreck is inevitable if the helmsman is killed.

How easily they forgot that David was steering them to safety as they were in ‘in distress, debt or discontented’ (1 Sam 22:2)! No wonder that a group of crocodiles are called a ‘congregation’. It may be because they have large jaws which are incredibly powerful with a bite-force of over 5000 pounds per square inch. David was perhaps cut to his heart as he heard them plotting to shred him, even though not all were troublemakers (1 Sam 30:22). David was greatly distressed (1 Sam 30:6). He could almost find himself in hot waters.

At times, congregation tends to think that a pastor is a messiah who will always be a deliverer. Interestingly, David was also in the same boat of pain as his family was also captured by the Amalekites (1 Sam 30:5). But he strengthened himself in the Lord and the zigzag at Ziklag became a straightened path as God restored everything.

The raided, attacked, de-populated and burnt Ziklag was again restored, agile, populated and brimming with laughter and echoes of joy. David recovered everything and more and ‘he took all the flocks and herds’ v. 20. Why not, he is a shepherd! A pastor is akin to a Phoenix who refuses to bite the dust, even if he is reduced to dust because God raises him up for his congregation so that they will become stronger and stable in cruising ahead. David’s feeble men became mighty men as we read in 2 Sam 24. A big shout for all the pastors who guide their congregation from possible hit and steer them to safety lest they will be titanicked!

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