Life Compass
Keeping You Pointed in the Right Direction

Expectations of the Preacher

This is the first year in over twenty years I have not taught a high school level American history or government class. One of my favorite areas to cover is the selection and election of a President. My classes have always stressed two focal points: 1) Constitutional Requirements (age, citizenship, and etc) 2) Cultural Expectations (experience, views on social issues, and etc). Today, I turn that focus to the church and the selection of a Pastor.

The scriptural qualifications of a pastor have been discussed and debated as to meaning and application since the inception of this blog. It has also served as a discussion and lesson topic on the DRIVE @ 5 at least four times over the past year and a half. So, let’s consider the Congregational Expectations of the Preacher. You know … those things people talk about and fuss about that aren’t necessarily scriptural.

There are a number of websites that post job listings for ministers. Most denominations have their own. I have always found some of the “extra” duties funny. A church with seventy five members offering a part time salary but expecting years and years of experience, master’s or seminary degree, youthful zeal and energy, able to bring in new people but having to have every move approved by the board. Now, though the performing of weddings, funerals, and counseling is not mentioned as a qualification to pastor they are certainly required expectations which come with the job. Paul told Timothy to preach the Word but he never told him to be a community leader in a secular arena like being mayor, councilman, or whatever. Yet, a small town pastor finds it essential to be part of the community if he’s going to win them. Otherwise he is simply a “visitor” passing through who will become very frustrated with the lack of results.

People want a preacher who is friendly, warm, and personable. He needs to be there in their time of need, want, and unmentioned expectation. In other words, he needs to be at everyone’s beck and call. He is encouraged to take time for his family but when he does he is made to feel guilty for it.

He is expected to visit members, prospects, shut ins, hospital patients, visitors, and the infirmed. His wife should be meek, quiet, able to teach, lead, direct, organize, and be in charge of a multitude of seconardary ministries like the nursery, junior choir, Sunday School, and direct all church dinners and meals to the sick.

Pastors who travel and preach or are away are made to feel like they are shirking their responsibilities. Yet, in this world of texting, tweeting, and Facebook … a pastor is never really disconnected from his congregation no matter where he is.

Lord, you keep him humble. We’ll keep him poor,” is the prayer of many a deacon. The average pastor with a family earns a salray that would qualify him for food stamps and other government assistance programs. What happened to double honor?

Then there are the children. They need to be …… PERFECT. Any sign of life and they are called demons, hellions, and rebellious. Let’s not forget the pastor’s home. Manicured lawn (but if he is seen cutting it he must be shirking a more spiritual duty somewhere), painted and well decorated (on his salary), and his car should be new (but not too new).

The flip side of all this is not for the pastor to either throw his hands up and give up. Yes, you should visit but set limits and let the congregation know what they are. You’re number one responsibility is to visit with the Lod who is your source of rest and supply.

Yes, you, your family, and your home should look cared for. Just because you pastor in the country doesn’t mean you should look like Mr. Hanney from Green Acres. Classic blue, grays, and black suits are always in style. Starched white shirts with silk ties make a statement. Tie bars, suits two sizes too small, wrinkled gray shirts that were white, and bib ties from the 70’s make a statement also. And that statement is: I’m irrelevant. I’m a clown. Ignore me. Men’s fashion magazines are not a bad investment.

Though your wife’s number one priority is you and the family, she does need to be an example to the ladies in the church as to faithfulness and willingness to serve. Your children were not called into ministry. You were. That said, they do need to behave and that IS a scriptural admonition which comes with the job. They don’t need to be at everything but they do need to be as involved as you want any young person involved.

Take your vacations. Take your days off. But don’t take more than the average family within your church can take. Vacations are tricky. Not only should you not exceed what other families do (ie … two weeks) but the timing is critical as well. Don’t be gone the week everyone in the church has their sleeves rolled up involved in a big project or during the launching of a new ministry or endeavor.

Keep regular office hours that people know and then work those hours! Never work less hours than your support staff. Double honor means double the responsibility and double the work. But you can work wisely. In my early days of ministry I would be out of the house two or three nights a week doing counseling. Then it dawned on me… if people could take time off to go to the dentist, doctor, vet, or whatever … they could do that for an appointment with me. Once you set that and enforce it … emergencies seem to go away.

There are many expectations people will place on you. This will be especially true in the area of preaching. While not every preacher can be a pastor (Evangelist) every pastor must be a preacher! God chose the foolish of preaching. Preaching is what reaches people and moves them under the anointing of the Holy Spirit to make life changing decisions. Men who have pastoral asperations but cannot preach have either misread what God wanted or they are called to a specialized form of associate pastoral work but not pastoring.

There is an art to preaching. Pastor, have you ever read a book on preaching? Do you enjoy listening to good preaching? How often do absorb preaching from others? Do you listen to your own messages to critique yourself and see if you’re being effective? Do you study the Word daily for personal enrichment and growth? The BEST sermons are the ones where God is dealing with you. You will preach those with the most passion and purpose. Do you have a wide variety of daily, weekly, and monthly reading topics? If you lack formal education in Biblical languages, doctrine, and/or expository teaching of the Word are you taking classes or studying online?

Are you up to date on fads, pop culture, and life in general? Your people are and that’s where they live.

Preaching is presenting the Bible as a tool to people for them to reclaim what they have yielded to Satan in their lives.

People are sheep. Sheep follow. The question is does the shepherd pastor know where he’s going and how to get there?

Many pastors would never rise above middle management in the business world. They delegate, detach, and disown others failures while reaping the rewards of others’ successes. A leader takes ownership of team failure and shares the reward for success.

When I pastored I had two groups of pastors with whom I associated. My close counsel of preacher buddies. Then there were my mentors. These were men of God being used by the Lord in a great way. It spurred me on to become more, be more, and do more. I never went to local preacher’s fellowships with status quo pastors doing little to nothing but proud of it. Longevity in an empty building is not accomplishment. Jesus mentioned that much fruit glorifies the Father.

As much as you need to meet Biblical qualifications and as much as some expectations can be picky and intrusive … you either accept it, embrace it, and relish in pastoring while savoring every minute you get to do it OR if you are constantly burdened by the pressure of daily demands in the ministry and want to quit … DO IT. Find a church where they want a lay speaker if you just want to preach. But if you want to pastor then understand it’s more than Sunday service and apple pie visitation at the deacon’s house.

 

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