This is a question posed in the Monday section of Dobberstein´s Anthology. He collected the Monday readings under the heading: “The Ministry: It´s promise and responsibility.” Two biblical quotes top this section:
Thus says the Lord God: Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?Ezekiel 34:2
Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.Daniel 12:3
Pastors from the Lutheran diocese in Saxony-Thuringa
So, now for the answer P. Heinrich Vogel gives to this question: What can a pastor give? (Pg.253f)
They all want something of me when they come to church. They all expect that I have something to give them. A pastor is a man who is beset by the expectation that he has something to give. And when they all expect that you have something to give, you finally get the idea yourself that you have something to give.
Do You have something to give? God help you never to grow so conscious of your ministerial office of your dignity that, as you grow older, more experienced, and mature, you come to be convinced in all “humility” that you have something to give!
What can you give to old R., who has been lying in the same bed for twenty years, paralysed and shrunken, and yet is friendly, quiet, patient, even joyful in the Lord? What are you going to give to the dying young consumptive whose mother has called you to come, and you find him in utter despair? What are you going to give to those people in the pews who have been disciplined in suffering and patience for thirty years and more, much longer than you have? What are you, who are only a man, going to give to men like yourself?
But stop the questions! Tell me, what language are you speaking? Are you speaking the language of the poor in spirit or are you speaking the language of unbelief? Do you really have nothing to give? Don´t you have something else to give? Don´t you bring with you that Book from the pulpit, which is God´s treasure for you and people like you? Has not the chalice and the bread been entrusted to you, so that you need not go to the hungering and thirsting with empty hands? Does not God have something to give? And can´t you take as much as you need in order to be able to give?
Woe is me. Am I speaking the language of faith, or is it the voice of the Tempter that is whispering to me, “God´s gifts are in your hand; just go ahead and use them?”
Get thee behind me, Satan! I have nothing to give, but God will give to me and my brethren, as he did yesterday and today, so tomorrow, out of the immeasurable riches of his grace. Amen.Heinrich Vogel, “Traugott Untreu auf der Kanzel” (1930) quoted in Kampffmeyer pp.89f.