Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was wakened by a troubling dream but, once awake, couldn’t remember the dream. He sought help from the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers. “Tell me what my dream was and interpret it,” he asked. When they failed, the king ordered their execution, as well as the execution of other “wise men” in the country.
Daniel, one of those wise men scheduled for execution, went to the king and asked for and was given time to interpret the dream. Returning home, he asked friends to pray for God’s intervention. That night, the Lord revealed the dream and its interpretation to Daniel who, after waking up, praised the Lord with these words, “I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, and you have made known to us the dream of the king” (Daniel 2:23).
Nebuchadnezzar asked for a miracle. He wanted someone to describe the content of his troubling dream and then interpret it. Daniel stepped in. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, he stepped out in faith, trusting that the Lord would provide the information sought by the king. And the Lord came through.
The story of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar mirrors a common experience of congregations seeking to discover their next pastor. The Congregation, like Nebuchadnezzar, calls out the Pastor Search Team (PST), the wise folk in the congregation, and tells them, “Find us the perfect pastor!” When the PST asks the congregation to identify the characteristics of the perfect pastor, they seldom receive a coherent response; they are left to their limited wisdom.
• Under great pressure to produce, the PST realizes that they have been asked to perform a miracle, like the miracle of describing and interpreting someone’s dream.
• Their mission encourages the PST to solicit prayers from the congregation. They ask the church to “plead for mercy from the God of heaven” so that they may complete their difficult assignment.
• They embark on their mission in faith, trusting that the Lord will give wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning, that he will reveal deep and hidden things. As Proverbs 3:5-6 prescribes, they trust in the Lord and lean not on their own understanding. They submit their way to the Lord, trusting that he will direct their path.
• Then, when the mission has been accomplished, they thank and praise the Lord for making known to them what they asked for.
Here, then, is an outstanding agenda for the first meeting of a Pastor Search Team:
1. Realize the magnitude of the challenge of discerning the identity of the next pastor.
2. Solicit the prayers of the people. Ask not for perfunctory prayers that simply baptize a trusted decision-making process. Ask, instead, for passionate and pervasive prayers which reflect total dependence upon the Lord to guide each step.
3. Leave preferences and prejudices behind and step forward in faith. Enter a discernment process, trusting that the Lord to reveal his preferred future for the congregation.
4. Give thanks to God even before he delivers as a sign of faith that he will deliver!