Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hard to be a pastor

A pastor friend of mine, Rev. Mark Roberts, did a blog not too long ago about the hardest thing about being a pastor. I thought I'd tackle this subject as well (with some help from his blog). Mark talked about one of the hardest aspects of being a pastor is the expectation people put upon their pastor. Here is a list from some of what he said:

• To be good oral communicators and to have truthful theology.

• To be caring counselors, good listeners and people of prayer who can help folks get through hard times and grow in their faith.

• To be present in personal emergencies, like unexpected hospitalizations or deaths in a family.

• To guide then through the intricacies of planning and performing weddings and memorial services.

• To be visionary leaders who can help churches both remain strong and grow in their ministries.

• To be wise and attentive managers of staff (if that’s in our job descriptions).

• To be decent writers, at least for the church newsletter and for other pastoral communications within the church.

• To be able to respond intelligently to a myriad of personal and theological questions.

• To be readily available to the congregation.

• To represent the church well in the community.

• To live exemplary moral lives.

To be prayerful both in public and in private.
As I look at this list, I can see why there are times I get overwhelmed or frustrated. It is impossible for any one person to be all these things. And yet churches do expect this from their pastor. Maybe it is because they need their pastor to be all these things for them. Maybe it is because they long to have these qualities in themselves. Maybe it is because people see pastor's as being above most people in their spirituality. But whatever it is, it is unrealistic.
Just for me to admit that I can't be all these things to my congregation is helpful. As I admit this, it helps me to know that I can't be a pastor on my own, I need God's help and God's strength, and God's guidance. It also helps me to realize that I need to understand who God created me to be, and life within my giftedness. If I can do that, then it will lead me to involve others around me who are gifted in ways that I am not.
In a more general sense, all people live their lives with unrealistic expectations. These expectations come from themselves and from others. And when we try to live our lives meeting unrealistic expectations, we will find ourselves frustrated, hurt, and/or angry because we cannot fulfill the demand.
So, I want to challenge you to think about the expectations you have for your life, and that others have for you. What expectations are unrealistic? Seek to live within the context of life God has called you to live. Seek to live your life utilizing the gifts God has blessed you with. And if you do, your life will be so much more fulfilling and purposeful!