Plight with the Pastor

All too often we don’t know what to do with our pastor? We know that there are expectations of him. Roles he should fulfill in our lives. He should be about preaching, praying and people. Still, it is hard to hold our overseers accountable when we don’t really know what we are suppose to expect from them besides the fact that we know we are suppose to expect something from them. All this leads to another issue, one of frustration and malcontent over your pastor’s ministry without knowing the reasons why you are frustrated. Perhaps it is just easy to catch the common theme of divisiveness from others and carry that torch. At least we know what we are doing. Been there, done that.

Of course, something that we often fail to ask in the midst of this self-righteous diatribe is “who is my pastor?” Surprised by this question? Perhaps you expected something like “what can we do to help him accomplish his task?” After all, when we view our roles in the church as mere jobs that must be done, is that not also an extension of how we view him? His multi-faceted task of teach, govern, protect, discipline, equip, love and lead is a difficult task. More important than these things is that we are fellow sojourners with one another. Just like you, your pastor has strengths and weaknesses. Of course you are not surprised to find out about his weaknesses, but what about his strengths? Didn’t know he had those did you?

If we were to spend a quarter of time we spend grumbling in prayer and another quarter of the time nurturing our relationship with the leader God has placed over us we would discover some surprising things. Like maybe…your pastor actually has good reasons for doing what he does. Take the time to talk with him and his perspective will surprisingly take a form of coherency. A minute ago it was mere chaos. Perhaps you will discover that your pastor did not invent his ideas ex nihilo, but from Scripture.

This radical illumination that your pastor is a person has extreme implications. When it comes to our pastors, I wish more people would ask “What should my attitude towards him be?” Ephesians 4:29 instructs “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” With this text urging us forward, consider the following ways to help formulate a consistent way to love the undershepherd God has placed in your life.

It is in the form of an acronym (I love acronyms). P-A-L-A-C-E

P ray for Him: “Pray for us” is a common theme throughout Scripture when we consider anyone. This includes our leaders (1 Thess 5:25, II Thess 3:1; Hebrews 13:18). If you could grant me this one thing: Pastors are under spiritual attack on a daily basis. The weight that is placed upon their shoulders is mighty indeed. They need all the prayer they can get to strengthen them as they continue the hard task they have been called to.  

A ccept His Leadership: Hebrews 13:17 instructs us to “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” I could spend a book’s worth of pages hypothesizing how we got to this place in our churches of expecting our leaders to do as we say rather than follow their lead. This does not mean our leaders are above scrutiny, but if they are walking in a manner worthy of their calling then back off and let them do what God has instructed them to do…lead.

L earn from His example: 1 Peter 5:3 “nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” This goes both ways for a pastor. A pastor’s life should be above reproach. Still, we all know pastors are not perfect. They should aspire to be like Jesus that singles them out among the crowd. We should aspire to be like that too.

A dvance your relationship with him: Philippians 1:6-8 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.  For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” Most of the epistles in the New Testament are about relationships between pastors and their flocks. I can’t think of a more joyful example than that of the Philippian church with Paul. We must remember that relationships go both ways. When your pastor approaches you to check on your well being, what is your response? Is it one of walls and cliché answers? These things are landmines in kingdom ministry. Abandon these tactics, take the chance, get to know your pastor and see his love for you grow by the day.

C ompare his teachings with Scripture: Acts 17:11 “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” As I mentioned earlier, following our pastor’s lead doesn’t mean being blind or uncritical. It does mean recognizing where our areas of responsibility are and focus on these endeavors with all our being.

E ngage in Ministry: Ephesians 4:11-12 “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” There is a method to all this madness. Your leaders should be impacting you. You should be changed by their influence for the better. The litmus test is the picture of ministry in our lives. When you pastor invests in you what is the result?

No doubt someone is wondering why I don’t do something like this for pastors. I could. Maybe someday I will. However, there are mountains of books already dedicated to the very important subject of the responsibilities of the pastor. The Bible gives emphasis on it. Trust me; your pastor probably has more people telling him today what his biblical responsibilities to you are than people telling you what your responsibilities to him are in your entire life.

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