We were two guys conversing while we waited. He noted the cross I always wear and asked about it. I told him I was a Christian and a pastor, that I had worn one for many years. He laughed and told me that his father was a pastor but “I was not ready to take on that life.” We agreed that serving as a pastor to God’s people is a good thing and requires a ‘calling,’ which he told me, “I never heard.” When I was 16, I did hear that Call.
Being a Pastor is both what I do and who I am. The work is like any other occupation, with both up’s and down’s. I am privileged to teach the Word, to counsel, to pray, to lock the church doors, and to make sure we have a balanced budget. In the same week I often share in – birth and death, grief and celebration. I am called in times of crises: marriage difficulty, tragedy, serious illness. The burden of speaking is to ‘rightly divide the Word of Truth.’ To be interesting and to be faithful to the Word is sometimes a challenge.
Yes, there is heartbreak. People angry at God sometimes aim their frustration at me, seeing me as His representative. One of the hardest things is when people I love just walk away – often without explanation, leaving me wondering how I could have better served them. I find myself elated when I see someone growing in Christ, when I walk a person to the point of accepting Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
You can bless this Pastor, and your pastor if you go to another church, with these wonderful gifts.
- Pray for him, every day.
Ask the Lord to keep and protect him, to help him to be disciplined and courageous, and to be loving in times of trial, and to stay renewed and alive in the Spirit. Remember, spiritual leaders are front-line targets. When a pastor fails, there is hurt and disappointment. Even where there is no moral compromise, like all people, pastors become discouraged or disillusioned. So, pray for your Pastor.
- Accept him and the spiritual gifts God has given to him.
Appreciate the unique strengths of your Pastor and encourage him in those areas where he is not as proficient. He probably knows the gaps in his skills and gifts better than you do. Remember, too, that he does not possess every gift of the Spirit. He, like you, has been created by the Lord to serve in a unique way.
- If you must criticize him, (and no pastor is above correction or criticism) do it honestly and directly.
If you have an issue with your pastor, make a time to sit with him and tell him about it. The church looks very different from his side of the pulpit and he may not share your perception. Give him the opportunity to explain that decision with which you disagree. Take time to understand yourself before you criticize your pastor. If you are angry with God, do not take it out on the one in the pulpit.
- Don’t idolize or idealize him.
He must live what he teaches, but he cannot do it not perfectly. He, like you, is working out his salvation each day, a recipient of God’s grace. If you turn him into idol, you sin because only God is worthy of your worship and devotion. If you idealize him, pushing him onto a pedestal, you will be disappointed. From that place, his ability to serve you is nearly impossible. He teaches you best, not from some lofty place far removed, but as leads you with an authentic, observable, living faith in a loving Lord. Jesus cautioned his disciples about seeking titles, about hiding behind robes. (see Matthew 23)
We are the family of God. Don’t try to make your pastor more than he is – a Christian walking with Jesus – just like you.
I hope it does not sound self-serving, but remember that the Word teaches that pastors are a gift from God to His church. The Lord “gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13, NLT) What a ministry position description!
Here is a word from the Word. “Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all…. Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?” (Hebrews 13:7, 17 The Message)
This Sunday marks the 19th anniversary of my pastoral call to Faith Discovery Church. Thanks for letting me serve you!
A note – I use the male pronoun in this blog, not exclusively. God’s gifts and callings are given equally to men and women.