Church Leadership
Church Members Don't Want a Hero, They Want a Pastor
According to an informal poll, church members' expectations for their pastors are healthier and more balanced than you might think.
  • “That’s right everybody, just keep piling on the expectations :/”
  • “You’d have to be five or six people to master all the traits on the wish list churches have.”
  • “Impossibly schizophrenic…this list exactly reflects the causes of stress and unrealistic heartache I wrestle with as a pastor. …Thanks for sucking the mojo right out of my soul.”

Oh my.

So what’s going on here?

I think such deeply negative comments speak to the pain that these pastors are already carrying with them. They’ve been hurt. Deeply. They need our prayers.

I get that pain. I’ve felt that pain. There was a time in my ministry when this list would have triggered my pain like it triggered theirs. But I’ve come to realize that the expectations on this list aren’t the cause of that pain.

Pastoral pain is often caused by our own obsession, not just to lead a healthy church, but to drive it to massive numerical growth as well.

Pastoral pain is often caused by our own obsession, not just to lead a healthy church, but to drive it to massive numerical growth as well. But very few church members expect or want that. It’s mostly self-imposed by pastors.

If those ten character traits were read without prior pain and without the underlying expectation that you have to do those ten plus grow a huge church, I don’t think pastors would feel as burdened by them.

Doing those ten adequately, but not super-humanly, in my current church, at the size it is now, with no expectation that the church has to get bigger to be successful is what pastoring a healthy small church looks like.

What People Want In a Pastor

If you still doubt that this is a reasonable list, take another look at it and answer this question. Which character trait would you remove? Good work ethic? Love of congregation? Strong character? Effective preaching?

No pastor is great at all ten. But greatness wasn’t asked for. Or expected. Yet basic competence in all ten is needed to lead a healthy church, even if the pastor equips others to do the parts they’re not as good at.

People want their pastor to be their pastor. To lead by example. To have integrity. To help them grow in their faith. And to love them along the way.

If we stop trying to do what they’re not asking us to do, that’s not a burden. It’s a privilege. And a joy.

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