Perfect pastor? Perfect people?
I know YOU have the perfect church and see yourself as the perfect leader who gets things right most times, right? Well, you may be that kind of leader, but I realize that I am flawed and in need of much grace, love, forgiveness and understanding as those I lead in the church context. Truth is, the ‘perfect’ leader is just an illusion or an ideal, at best! Apart from Christ, who modelled this kind of leadership during His earthly ministry, none of us get it right. This follow-up post is my heartfelt response to the cry of many within congregations that I have led over the years. Following on from my previous blog entitled, “5 Disappointments to Overcome in Serving King Jesus”, this post is written from the perspective of the many congregation members that share an equal disdain for church leaders who disappoint them, and who struggle with their desire to serve God, without being disappointed or ultimately disillusioned with the Church, or the Christian Faith altogether. Below are five of the most common disappointments I have heard aired. Perhaps you have others to add to my list, please feel free to comment below.
5 Voices of Concern From The Congregation
- You don’t include me in the process of decision-making but expect me to follow through at every level of execution on the ground. I know that you’re full time and fully invested in the church life and ministry, but please honor my involvement and allow me some space to invest weightily in the ministry we execute.
- You demand increasing amounts of my time in the name of ‘ministry’, while my primary God-given roles (follower of Christ, spouse, parent) suffer or erode to the point of breakdown.
- Pastors and some in leadership positions tend to teach one thing and demonstrate another in their lives. You cannot expect your church to do what seems above you.
- Your presence and friendship is often felt in times of blessing but is missed when my life is in crisis. Where are you when I am at my lowest? Do you measure me on what I can contribute and marginalize me when I can’t perform at your level of expectation?
- I feel that when the church grows your attention is divided and am disappointed that things are not the way they used to be. Please honor those who helped you achieve what you have by God’s grace.
Truth is, because of our fallen nature and sin-filled lives, we’re all going to disappoint people at some or other time and cause offense. WHEN this happens, and it will, the test of your maturity and faith is best measured in the words of Paul in Philippians 3:13, 14:
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
We’re not in ministry for the approval of men or the glory of men, but we do what we do for the ultimate glory of God. When there’s hurt, address is Biblically and with a dose of humility, wisdom and gentleness. Proverbs 29:22 reminds us that: “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins”. Remember that when we’re hurt and disspointed by others, that we’ve at some point been in a similar position where we have hurt and dissapointed people ourselves. Give your pastors a break, and pastors, seek to resolve these often unspoken hurts and dissapintments in a way that leads to healing and fulfils the mission of God. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope” (Martin Luther King, Jr.). Let’s end this with a helpful passage from Proverbs 17:9, 10:
“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. A single rebuke does more for a person of understanding than a hundred lashes on the back of a fool”.