What does a pastor look like? What form does he take? The answer varies. It depends on the man’s gifts. It depends on his upbringing, on the place in which he serves, and on the people he serves. Pastors strive, as did the apostle Paul, to become all things to all people so that by all possible means they might save some. Paul often changed his approach to ministry, always with the goal of sharing the message of the risen Lord and Savior of all.
That is the goal of all Christians, and specifically the goal of my brothers and me, who at the time of this writing are in the middle of our vicar year. We are each being formed by our congregation, supervising pastor, and community. As I talk to my friends and watch their sermons online, I realize just how different each of us are and how different the people are, from New York City to Houston to just down the road from Mequon. As they navigate managing a schedule and learning the inner workings of a congregation—all while being on their own for the first time or perhaps beginning married life—each one is being formed uniquely for what God has in store for them, wherever he has planned for them to go.
I find myself in a place very different than Mequon, Wisconsin. The people in my community and those I serve look and sound different than I do. Not only that, but their way of thinking does not always line up with the logic I have worked out in my head. Sometimes people communicate in an extremely direct way to the point where I feel uncomfortable but must continue as if it were normal. Other times people communicate indirectly to the point where I am not sure I understand the subtext. No doubt there have been times when the message was entirely lost on me. There have been more than a few “smile and nod” moments. All these differences and challenges can be frustrating, but they are key moments in learning the culture and being formed into a minister who understands the concerns of his people and can articulate the gospel in an appropriate and deeply meaningful way.
I’m not alone in this journey, however. I have learned a lot from my supervising pastor, Henry Herrera, from the other local pastor, Tonny Quintero, and from the One Latin America team of missionaries. And my Savior has been guiding me through it all, teaching me humility, which is key to adapting to a new setting and new people. In a year and a half, the men who are now being formed by their vicar year will, God-willing, be receiving calls to serve God’s people. Whether that be just down the road or across the globe, a mission start or an established congregation or a school, there will no doubt be challenges and some amount of adaptation needed. But we trust that God goes with us. He is the one who continues to form us for service to him, who himself took the form of a servant for us.
Zachary Satorius spent the 2021–22 school year as a vicar at Santísima Trinidad in Medellín, Colombia.