I’ve been in church ministry for over thirty years. I’ve also served non-church Christian organizations for another ten years or so. I’m well aware of both the possibilities for greatness and the tendencies to fail inherent in people who pursue goals in both arenas. I also have no illusions that people who serve God are without their own wrinkles, warts and even deep dark places. I have mine.
But I also know that many in ministry, most of them actually, are trying to do their best to teach truth practically, help people compassionately and train others effectively to be like Jesus in everyday life.
Unfortunately, many church attenders and leaders often have a warped, distorted set of expectations, that somehow instead of hiring a person to lead their fellowship, congregation or parish, they got Jesus Himself. And even Jesus might not meet their standards!
So in a day and age when church leaders are under the microscope more than ever (and some need to be) and when many church attenders are perhaps more interested in their own benefit rather than the health of those who lead them, I want to suggest several ideas of things to do for and say to those who lead you while adding a few to simply quit doing.
Your spiritual leader always needs:
1. To be told thank you now and then. Trust me, they probably don’t hear this as much as you might think.
2. A gift card or two to go out to dinner or see a movie with their spouse. Even if they can afford it, buy it for them anyway. That says a lot.
3. A weekend off at least every two months where someone else handles everything. The pressure to prepare, perform and be there weekend after weekend is more draining than the average person will ever know.
4. A vacation longer than a week and at least 3 weeks total per year. A one week vacation looks like this to most pastors: 1 day to prepare to leave, 2 days to come down from the busy schedule, 2 days off, 1 day to start thinking about what needs to be done when they return, 1 day to return.
5. A conference or growth opportunity that he or she chooses. Often these kinds of things are boring, same old, required denominational or other expected events. Let your pastor go to something refreshing and new.
Your spiritual leader never needs:
A. Drop-in visits to criticize the message, church style or direction. Healthy evaluation should be welcomed but not as a drive by shooting.
B. Unsigned notes or letters. I never read them. They are lazy, cheap and never helpful.
C. To be at every event, service, hospital call or funeral. Your church isn’t growing if others aren’t taught and expected to provide care and some of the other services a pastor brings to the table.
D. To do the best without adequate equipment, staff or other resources. This doesn’t usually require large investment but we should be doing our best to help our staff do their job well with modern up-to-date resources.
E. To serve without a trusted friend, mentor or coach with whom brutal honesty is accepted and respected. Pastors will not be totally honest or accountable with someone who has power over them so provide someone else. Check out http://www.standingstoneministry.org who offers this for free.
A church will ward off many problems if its leaders and attenders will treat the pastor and their spouse with kindness, wisdom and encouragement. Think about what you can do in the next couple of days.