Friday, September 28, 2007

Insecure Pastors

Pastors have some tricky politics to wade through in the normal duties that they perform. I've encountered more than a few who are deeply insecure with all of that stuff. I can certainly testify to have having been there and felt that.

Pastors are blamed for many things. They do things too quickly, too slowly, their sermons are too light, too deep, they don’t visit enough, they meddle too much.

I remember getting chewed out by a long time member because I didn’t preach enough hell fire and brimstone. She thought it was very uncaring to not give people a good dose of the guilts. How on earth would they toe the line without some good old fashioned guilt to motivate their sinful hearts?

Another time I was encouraging the congregation to pray together during the service. That week I was confronted by a group who had never shown any sign of vocal disapproval and was emphatically told that if I ever had them do that again (pray with each other), that they would leave the church. I chickened out and never did that blasphemous thing again.

Pastors need to demonstrate growth in the congregation and therefore, if there are no conversions, the impression is that he just ain’t got it.

“Hey, there’s sick people in the hospital, why aren’t you ministering to them.”

“Did you see what his kids were doing the other day, what kind of pastor is he?”
“He didn’t attend my second cousins engagement party and I specifically invited him. He never cares about us.”

Bob was found out doing some horrible deed, “Why did the pastor appoint him to the building committee. I guess he just doesn’t have very good discernment.”

“Did you say a raise? I say keep him poor, that’s the way to keep him on his knees.”

If he is not doing something: interpreting, planning, visiting, counseling, facilitating, final wording, praying, he is not earning his keep.

Protecting the pulpit is a major part of the job description as we couldn’t handle some differing perspective. "Why are there so many different views anyway, doesn't everyone know that we're right? And besides it's the pastor's job to do the thinking, we're just dumb sheep." I personally think that that line of protecting the pulpit is really more about not rocking the boat, than anything else.

“Church growth. Hmmph! What about the quality of the people? Keep the riff raff out and keep me comfortable." (This is actually one of the most common but unacknowledged characteristics of the small, one pastor led church)

Some guys actually do break through the average size and grow to 1,000 – 5,000 – 10,000.” For him, it’s a different problem. Who’s got the goods to speak into his life and now he’s more alone than ever.

Sometimes the toughest churches for pastors is those nice, tightly knit churches of between 60-150. Everyone has their scorecard out and has been well trained by previous pastors to not let anyone mess up the system.

And then there's the pesky competition from the large church down the street that makes him an easy target. They do everything so much better. And at the same they don’t want to lose the “closeness” that they share together.

All he knows for sure is that he has been called to the ministry. After a few years the blame game either wrecks him and his family or he becomes professionally aloof with a thick skin and a gleaming smile that no one can get past. His salary is sufficient and besides, that’s all he’s trained to do.

But the hook is in and he’s obediently right where God wants Him to be. After all, the sheep need a shepherd and a shepherd needs his sheep. It really is a wonderfully confusing, codependent relationship and since its God’s plan, who can argue with it?

Eventually a comfortable rhythym of give and take, a steady salary and enough new innovative programs are copied to satisfy the desire for "safe" change, ease in. Everyone is happy enough with the status quo and besides, they do hear his word preached every week.

This must be God’s plan since 80% of all churches are in the 100 or so range. If the Holy Spirit wanted something different then surely He would have shown us something different.

But then one day it happens. The pastor gets a visitation from God telling him to shutdown the whole kooky mess.

Not too many guys would be secure enough to be obedient to that call.

Question: Just hold on there compadre. God couldn't, I mean wouldn't, I mean...... Could He really do that?

Answer: I'm not sure if God would be secure enough to ask such a thing.

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