While on vacation last week with my family in Mexico, we were eating at a restaurant and I noticed several of the items on the menu were marked as “Pastor.” For example, one item was “Pastor Nachos” and another was “Pastor Tacos.” Needless to say, I was intrigued. What about these nachos and tacos distinguished them as being “Pastor”? I don’t speak much Spanish, but fortunately my wife and kids have been learning some Spanish over the last year or so. So I asked them, and I was surprised to learn that “Pastor” means “Pork.”
I thought this was hilarious! I’m a pastor, so I guess you could say I’m a pig! Pastors are pigs! I’m sure this would never actually get understood this way in translation, but I thought it was pretty funny anyway.
When I got home from vacation, I wondered why “pastor” meant something contained pork. In every language I’m familiar with, a pastor is a shepherd, not of pigs, but typically of sheep. So how did it refer to pork in the Spanish language?
It turns out that “pastor” used to refer to a Lebanese method of cooking lamb on a rotisserie. When Lebanese immigrants moved to Mexico, they and their neighbors adapted this recipe and used the kind of meat that was more readily available in their new home: pork. But since they were preparing the meat basically the same way, they kept calling it “pastor.”
What does all this have to do with ministry? I have no idea. But it does make me think about the compromises we sometimes make. Am I substituting something important for whatever’s easy or popular, and then trying to pass it off as the real deal? I think many pastors and churches even do this unintentionally, when they seek to attract people into the church using anything other than the gospel.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to call pork nachos “Pastor Nachos” even though they don’t contain lamb. I actually thought they tasted pretty good! But let’s not make the same move in life and ministry. Strive to be faithful to God, and never be satisfied with doing what’s easy.