Questions the Congregation Would Never Ask the Pastor, But Would Love to Know the AnswerJune 21, 2013
1. What Do You Do?
The old joke says the pastor only works an hour and a half each week: thirty minutes on Sunday morning, thirty minutes on Sunday night, and thirty minutes on Wednesday. Though most people realize that is not true, they may wonder what the pastor does on a daily basis. My grandfather used to tell me that “preaching is the easy part” of ministry; I didn’t understand the magnitude of that statement until I became a pastor.
The responsibilities of the man of God are many: reading, writing, studying, counseling, visitation, evangelism, preaching appointments, organizing, planning, preparing for ministry events, dealing with interpersonal relationships, and discerning the will of God and direction for His people. Not to mention responding to emails, text messages, phone calls, and social media. Neither does this factor in the time he needs with family, sanity, and personal spiritual development.
No two days are alike in the ministry. Each day is filled with challenges, issues, and grace. Much of the pastor’s time is impromptu- simply handling and praying over situations as they arise.
Although the man of God may know what he is doing, and has a clear understanding of his schedule, many times his congregation does not. The preacher should be accountable to his time and periodically let others know what is going on in his day to day, or at least week to week regiment. If the pastor is fortunate to have a staff, they can help in letting others know his schedule. Preaching may be all they ever see, assure them it is not all that you do.
2. Do You Care About My Family?
It is often said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” I have found that statement to be true. Most people are not impressed with your degrees, your accomplishments, or your ministerial standing. Most people simply want to know that you love them. We show others love by preaching truth, helping their walk, and staying invested in their lives. The larger the congregation the more difficult it is to be “everything to every man.” Again, having a staff can help with serving your congregation’s needs. However, you don’t have to have a team of preachers around you to let your people know that you care; and they DO need to know that you care.
As the under-shepherd to the flock of God we must show them we are not hirelings. We are not simply pursuing a career, earning a paycheck, or fulfilling obligations of a job. We are actively engaged in a calling, and part of that calling is tending, leading, caring, feeding, and nourishing our people. From time to time we should communicate that with our lips, but ultimately they should see it with our lives. They will never ask, “Do you care for my family?” but they need to know the answer.
3. How Can I Help?
Surprisingly, even in this busy, hectic, crazy-scheduled life, people do want to help their church. I have found that many times things are left undone simply because those in leadership neglect to express the need. Most people want to serve in some capacity; they want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. It is much easier for people to be involved when a vision is clearly articulated and a plan of action is in place.
For the most part, people will not just volunteer their time to something that seems like a time-waster. Plan diligently, organize carefully, and ask kindly- you’ll discover people serving faithfully.
4. How Long are You Staying?
People are committed to people who are committed. People follow those who are confidently leading. It is difficult to win people over to your vision, ideas, or philosophies if they, in the back of their minds, think you will not stay long enough to carry things through.
Church is a place for family. It is where foundations are built, homes are established, lives are changed, and eternities are altered. Therefore, churches that have a large turnover of pastors and staff will find their congregations struggling with stability and community. Our people must trust us to follow our lead, and as everyone knows, trust is earned. And it is only earned over time.
Obviously, God’s will comes into play here. None of us know where we will be in 10,15, 20 years-things do change. Positions change, desires change, people change, our lives change; but as ministers, we must assure our people through our character, integrity, and spiritual influence that changes will only be made under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God; and that includes your staying or leaving.
5. Are you Human?
It’s amazing the response I get from people when they discover I am a preacher. Suddenly, their language, behavior, and overall tone changes. For some reason, people think that pastors are a different species. I am not insinuating that others think we are super-human, I am just saying they want to know if we are like them. Do we get angry? Do we have selfish desires? Do we forget to pray? Do we laugh? Do we watch television?
It is hard to minister to people if they think you have no connection with their lives. Christ is our great High Priest because He dwelt among us, He touched our humanity, He felt our sorrow; He knows what it is like to cry, laugh, sweat, hurt, and feel the pressure of living in this world. People were always drawn to Him because He embraced their world.
Part of leading people is living with people. Preaching, teaching, and ministerial duties must be coupled with real relationships that expose our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. When others see our humanity, they just might see, on a larger scale, the grace of God at work. They will never ask to see your scars, but from time to time you might want to reveal them.