Images: Ben White
Every so often I think we need to be reminded that pastors and ministers are just people: regular, down to earth, flesh and blood human beings.
Sometimes I think the expectations we put on them can be completely unrealistic and it’s no surprise we are left disappointed. They are men (and women) of God; they are not God. They fail, they fumble and they need us to be their biggest cheerleaders, not their harshest critics.
Things we should remember about pastors
1. They’re Flawed
Pastors aren’t perfect (just like you, just like me). They have their own issues, frailties and challenges. If you knew their story and saw all that they have been through, I am certain you would give more grace and less criticism. Yes, sometimes they will forget to say hello, preach a lousy sermon and not handle a situation the way you wanted them too. Guess what, be a bigger person and let them off the hook. Although our God is perfect and all powerful, His servants are not.
2. They Feel
Under all that thick skin, Pastors have feelings too. They may not show it, but behind the veneer your words have the power to build them up or tear them down. I remember many times leading and nurturing young people for years, only to have them turn around and say, “you don’t even care about me.” Ouch. That hurt. Actually ministry can hurt a lot. You give your life for people and they spend most of their time pointing out what you’re not doing or things you can do better. Let’s be encouragers, not finger pointers.
3. They’re Trying
Regardless of what you see on Facebook and the many robust hashtags #lovemychurch #bestdayinthehouse #revivalisnow being a Pastor is a tough gig. Behind the filter most Pastors I know are dealing with some incredibly difficult issues. Leading people through divorce, abuse, grief, sickness, mental health issues and family breakdowns as well as managing logistics, services, programs, finances and faculties and not to mention juggling their own marriages, families and some of the time other jobs! In my own personal experience I have always worked other jobs (full time) while carrying the role of a Pastor. Anyone in ministry knows the sacrifice and juggle that comes with it. Cut your leaders some slack. They’re giving 110%.
So why write this? To encourage you (and me) to continually show honour and grace to those God has appointed to lead His Church. The Church has enough “haters”, surely it’s time for Christians to step up and be lovers of her and her leaders.
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So what can we do?
1. Be Part of the Solution
Instead of complaining that you don’t have a great kids ministry, why not get in there and make it happen? Instead of walking into Church and saying it’s not that friendly, go be friendly! It’s not just the Pastors job to meet every need and grow the Church. His job is to equip the saints for the work on ministry. You and I are the saints! It is our responsibility as Christians to make the Bride shine. Get in there and get your hands dirty! In other words get on a roster, serve somewhere, if you’re in the room add value to it! Sometimes I think we’re like the 100,00 crowd, desperately in need of exercise, cheering on the 22 on the field who are desperately in need of a rest. Come on let’s be the solution!
2. Be Honouring
It’s ok to disagree, but you don’t have to dishonour. If you have an issues take it the person, don’t talk behind their back. Bitterness flourishes in dark places.
Bring everything to the light and keep a sweet spirit. This is not easy when you’ve been hurt, (listen I know that, I get it) but for your own sake it’s necessary. Mature Christians learn to show grace even when they have been hurt and show honour even when they disagree. Something I am not perfect at, but my that’s my earnest desire.
3. Be Realistic
A pastor can’t be good at everything. They will have particular talents and strengths as well as blind spots and shortcomings. You won’t find a man (or woman) who is the greatest preacher, the most organised manager, yet super relational and incredibly sensitive and caring.
“A pastor will have particular talents and strengths as well as blind spots and shortcomings.”
Often times these talents and attributes do not exist within one individual. Thus we all have a part to play! Paul wrote in Corinthians that we are all parts of one body, it’s our difference and diversity that brings beauty as a whole. Let your Pastor play to his strengths and find the right people to fill the gaps.
4. Be Kind and Open Your Heart
Stop asking what your pastor can do for you and start asking what you might be able to do for them and your Church? So often we require so much of our Pastors – their time, their energy, their counsel, their homes. When was the last time you invited your Pastor over for dinner? Pastors have literally hundreds of people to care for, maybe we should start looking after them too?
Article supplied with thanks to Sabrina Peters. About the Author: Sabrina is a new generation speaker and author and former youth pastor of 9 years. Her passion is Jesus, relationships & sexuality.
Disclaimer: In discussing pastors who ‘fail’ and ‘aren’t perfect’, this blog refers to men and women of good integrity and character. It aims to encourage Christians to handle disagreement and disappointment with maturity, and in no way excuses any form of illegal or immoral behaviour.