Friday, September 28, 2012

2nd Generation: Ten Things Every Pastor Wishes His Congregation Knew

Elaine and I were raised in a pastors home and we wouldn't trade it for anything. We have a heart for pastor's today. They are facing things that pastor's in the past haven't had to face. Times have changed. People have changed. Churches have changed. Over 1800 pastors are stepping down every single month. Not because God has released the call, but because of people like you and I.
Lets love on our pastors. Tell them you apprecaite them. Please take time to read the article below. There is a lot of truth to it. Get ready to say OUCH and then get ready to love on your pastor and his family.

Here are ten things every pastor wishes the congregation knew but doesn't know how to say:

(1) Your pastor has feelings. No seriously, he really does! Dealing with troubled marriages, addictions, mean-spirited congregants, constant complaints, and troubled spiritual lives can really weigh heavy on a person. It's no small thing for a pastor to get up in the pulpit on Sunday with a smile on his face after he's just visited a young man in jail, been witness to parents letting their children know they are getting a divorce, or counseled with that man dealing with a pornography addiction. It can break the strongest person. And if you say hurtful things to the pastor, even if you think you are right, learn to say: "I'm sorry." If you do have criticism, never do it publicly (a cowardly way), but go to him privately and season your speech with grace.

(2) Your pastor needs encouragement. Don't expect a pastor to ask for it, just give it. If your pastor does something meaningful that you appreciate, don't take it for granted, let him know how much it mean to you! Discouragement is real! It is discouraging to watch people "fall by the way-side" after you have spend days and maybe weeks or months investing in them as a pastor. Your pastor always gets discouraging calls; maybe you could give him an encouraging one (without asking anything of him). A few simple words of encouragement can do more good than many voices of discouragement.

(3) Your pastor is probably under-paid. (Just assume he is and its the church's responsibility to provide for him and his family.) I know people think pastors ought to be paid minimum wage so they can "rely on the Lord." The pastor does rely on the Lord, there's no need for further 'testing.' Pastors, when considering their education level as well as the ordination process of some denominations, have a very rigorous process to undergo before being fully ordained! The level of support that most churces provide is not even comparable to the amount of time, resources, education, giftedness, etc that it takes to become a pastor. Many pastors struggle to even pay off their under graduate or graduate education with the financial support they receive while pastoring a church. That, along with family responsibilities, financial expectations to give to the local church in every special offering (above & beyond tithe), and other financial issues, places a huge burden on the pastoral family. How many people would complain about the pastor's atire if he wore the same suit every Sunday or drove a 'clunker' while out visiting parishners? Yet, if we're not careful, we hold financial expectations on our pastor that are unfair. In many cases, when pastors retire from ministry, they are left to live off a social security check or the retirement fund of their spouse (shame on us). If we do not honor God's spokesperson to the local church; God will not honor the church.

(4) Your pastor is under constant spiritual attack. Yeah, they deal with temptation too. It's kind of like this: If you were fighting in the revolutionary war and you had one shot at the army charging at you would you shoot (1) the hundreds of foot soldiers charging or (2) the man riding the horse with a big plume in his hat? You got it! The pastor is in a place of leadership and if a pastor falls morally it causes a lot of discouragement and damage to the kingdom. Of course the Devil is going to target your pastor... especially if he is leading with integrity and the anointing of the Holy Spirit! Pray for your pastor. He needs it. Who will stand in the gap for their pastor?

(5) Your pastor's spouse has the hardest job in the church. I can't leave this one out. The spouse is not technically a staff person of the local church. Problem is, "pastor's wife" is its own position! Expectations are high for this non-paid position. Too many people believe the pastor's spouse ought to be a wonderful pianist, the friendliest greeter, a proficient Sunday School teacher, a fashion icon, a model of humility, a compassionate counselor, and the list goes on and on. There are few things that are difficult for the pastor's spouse: unfair expectations from the congregagtion, everything they say or do is under scrutiny, their kids have to behave and act better than everyone elses kids, they get no down time, if they were really transparent their mate might be out of a job, and so much more. Being a pastor's spouse can be one of the most lonely roles in the church. They often cannot even afford to have friends in the church for fear of betrayal or gossip. Try to make things pleasant for your pastor's spouse: let them know they are appreciated and do not make them the "back-up plan" for every ministry in the church. Protect your pastor's spouse, because your pastor needs their spouse more than they need you.

(6) Not everything is the pastor's fault. This is hard to believe, I know. The pastor is certainly an easy one to blame everything on because they are the visible leaders of the local church. Don't point fingers at the pastor every time something goes wrong or someone in the church is mad about something. If his preaching isn't up to par maybe its because he is spending too much time vacuuming the sanctuary. If he isn't visiting enough maybe its because he's too busy putting out the fires of discontent that you or others are starting. Do something to help cover for him! If more people need to be visited; visit them. If a Sunday School class needs to be taught; teach it. If no one will do the power point; volunteer. Step up and into a place that you can be part of the solution instead of the problem. Blaming someone else for the church's lack of effectiveness does not work! (Blame did not solve anything for Adam & Eve either.)

(7) Your pastor wishes he was Superman, but he is lucky to pull off Clark Kent some days. There are some things he just won't be good at... sorry. Not every sermon will be a home run (that doesn't mean you shouldn't listen to them). Generally, he won't be strong in every single area of pastoral ministry. It doesn't mean he is a failure, it means the church needs to function as a body instead of "paying the preacher to do it all." If a good pastor is guilty of anything, it is trying to be good at everything and then failing at everything. When you see your pastor trying to take on one more thing, that is the time to be stubborn and demand that he not add another thing to his list (tell him to add it to yours). This may be a shock to some, but your pastor does not know everything... the problem occurs when people treat him like he does not know anything.

(8) Your pastor is on call 24/7; try to be sympathetic when it comes to his time. Be considerate. Do not call your pastor before 8am or after 9pm except in an emergency. Try to work out the small stuff on your own. Do not be a "tattle tail" either. If there is a serious moral short coming, sure, that needs to be dealt with. But your pastor probably does not even care that someone looked at you cross-eyed during the offeratory. If that teenager keeps talking during service you deal with it or get over it. You know that guy you keep complaining is dropping cigarette butts in the flower bed, the pastor is trying to lead him to Christ. One day you may need the pastor in a real emergency so do not be the person always crying wolf! (As a side note, I might add that an over whelming majority of what people think is major, is in fact minor. Get a life, get a job, get out of your little world and try to catch the big picture of what Jesus is doing in the world around you!) Your pastor really cares about you, probably, but do not take advantage of that fact.

(9) Quit being so sensitive about EVERYTHING! This is a hard truth to swallow, but your pastor is not sitting around all week thinking of ways to offend you in his sermon on Sunday (and if he is, you must be a huge problem in the church). Keep in mind that the church is a family so we sometimes have conflict. Conflict is not bad in and of itself, it is what we do in that conflict that matters. Try giving your pastor the benefit of the doubt. Do not take everything personally. That chip on your shoulder may be restraining your pastor from doing what he needs to do to see the church move forward. Who wants to be a stumbling block? The reality is, your pastor wants what is spiritually the best for you and the church.

(10) Don't make your pastor stand alone. If your pastor has really been called of God there will be times he must make a stand for truth. When he does that, your responsibility is to be a supporter of biblical truth. Stand with him. Complainers, slanderers, gossips, and those causing division in the church are always vocal, why not be vocal about supporting your pastor if he is standing up for what is right? Too many people hide in the trenches and let the pastor lead the charge into the lines of immorality while they sit safely in their bunker silently "admiring" their martyr pastor and discussing who they can find for a new pastor when this one gets eaten alive on the battlefield fighting for truth. Your pastor will only be able to take so many bullets with everyone hiding behind him before he will have to leave your church... wounded. Then you'll get a pastor who may or may not stand up for what is right and you will have a wake of unsolved moral issues in your church that you will expect the next pastor to deal with alone as well. Sometimes this is as simple as letting him know verbally that you support him standing for truth. (It is not ever about sides, but it is about whether your pastor is doing right!)

I might be able to add to this list later, but I hope this might give insight to some lay person on how they can better be a Aaron or Hur for their Moses (Exodus 17:10-13). And to any of my current or past congregation members who might think I am talking about them... you bet I am. :-)

Brenda, Elaine & Josh
2nd Generation

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