The following points are ten things pastors wish their congregations understood about them:
I. Pastors wish the congregation understood that their work involves far more than just Sunday preaching
1. Challenges in administration, management, real estate, demographics, marketing, programs, in addition to leadership development, mentoring, board development, staff challenges, and people problems all demand more than a full work week (with small, mid-size, and large congregations alike) even before the pastor opens up a Bible to write the Sunday message. Over the years, I have had more than one person say something to me like “Are you just a minister or do you have a job as well?”
2. For much more on this point, refer to my article “Eight Reasons Why Pastors Fall.”
II. Pastors wish the congregation understood how hard it is to “hit a home run” every week preaching the Word
Often times, folks in a church will think the guest minister is a better preacher than their pastor because of how anointed and powerful their delivery is; but the congregation doesn’t realize that a guest minister has the luxury of preaching their specialty messages based on their primary life message and calling, as opposed to the pastor who has to feed the sheep a balanced menu of messages that may involve subjects they are not particularly passionate about.
III. Pastors wish the congregation would respect and honor their marriage and family
1. Many folks in the congregation have no clue how hard it is for the spouse and children of the pastor to live in a fish bowl, always under the intense scrutiny of living to a higher standard than the rest of the congregation.
2. This is why many children of pastors hate church and why many spouses blame the ministry for most of the marital challenges they have.
3. Most people don’t realize how detrimental statements like “You are the pastor’s son, you shouldn’t behave like this” to the children of a pastor.
IV. Pastors wish people in the congregation would serve them with some of their domestic needs so they can focus more on the work of the ministry
1. The fact of the matter is that most spouses of pastors serve with them in full-time ministry even if they are not on salary and recognized as such. Thus it is very hard for them to maintain both their ministry and domestic obligations.
2. When I preach to a congregation, I often tell the church that if they really want to help themselves and their family they would volunteer to serve the pastor with some of the following items that would release the pastor and family to focus more on standing before God in prayer and study, fulfilling the vision of the church, and meeting the needs of the congregation:
a. Babysitting, so the pastor and spouse can go out once in a while to enrich their marriage. After all, as the marriage of the leader goes, so goes the families of the church.
b. Help with cleaning the house and shopping for food, to release the pastor and spouse to focus on ministering to the spiritual needs of the church.
c. Help with transporting the children to and from school (if applicable).
d. Regularly blessing them with enough finances on special occasions to go away as a family or a couple on vacation.
e. Showing adequate honor and appreciation for their hard work and service. Often just a small amount of affirmation goes a long way in regards to encouraging pastors and their families.
V. Pastors wish the congregation respected their personal and family time
1. Many needy individuals think nothing of calling up a pastor during all hours of the night for counseling, and they get upset if the pastor doesn’t respond to their satisfaction.
2. Every congregant should avoid calling a pastor at home during dinner and family time.
3. Congregants should avoid calling the pastor on their day off.
4. Pastors should construct firewalls around their personal time with God and family.
5. Individuals should not be so self-absorbed that they don’t think about the human needs of their pastor and family.
VI. Pastor’s wish the congregation understood the proper way they should be monetarily compensated
1. Unfortunately, many congregations think their job is to keep their pastor and family poor and humble. Just the thought of a pastor being prosperous is an affront to those with the old religious view that every minister should take a vow of poverty.
2. The average pastor works 80-plus hours per week, often without proper retirement benefits, medical coverage, etc. When all is said and done, even a pastor making $50,000 or more per year is probably making close to minimum wage when you add up all the time they put in weekly.
VII. Pastors desire that committed members and attendees would communicate with them and get their blessing before leaving the church
1. Often times people leave a church because of offense, not because of a leading of the Lord.
2. If people would walk in the light by communicating with their pastor, then most of the schemes of the enemy would be unmasked and thwarted.
3. Most people just went instead of being sent from their church to another ministry.
4. Pastors should teach their congregation the principles of walking in Matthew 18:15-18 and especially insist that their leadership model this for the rest of the congregation.
VIII. Pastors desire members and attendees would communicate with them when they are planning on moving away from the church
I can’t count the number of times in the past 25 years I have experienced folks regularly attending our church just move away without saying goodbye or even letting us pray and counsel with them before making such a big decision.
IX. Pastors desire their congregation would regularly pray for them and their family
1. I believe the job of senior pastor is one of the hardest jobs in the world! The challenges are enormous because you are not only dealing with your own personal family issues but are also pulled into the problems and challenges of the other people in your local church. The Bible teaches in Zechariah 13:7 that if the shepherd is smitten, the sheep are scattered; thus, the senior pastor is the number one target for the devil to attack! Because of this, the congregation should daily pray for their pastor and family even before they pray for their own needs.
2. In our church there is a prayer shield organized of almost 100 intercessors who are involved in concerted prayer for myself, my family, and the needs of the church. Prayer calendars are handed out each month that highlight a different prayer focus each day, but the one thing each day has in common is that me and my family are the first entity to be prayed for.
X. Pastors desire the congregation would have ownership of the ministry and volunteer to serve
1. Sometimes the larger the church, the harder it is to have adequate volunteers. In our church we have two Sunday services and we are continually challenged with having enough Sunday school teachers. Pastors wish the congregation understood that the greatest way to grow is to serve! (Read Mark 10:43-45.) If the congregation understood this principle, each ministry in the church would have a huge waiting list for people wanting to volunteer their time to serve.
2. The number one prayer Jesus taught us to pray was for more laborers (Read Matthew 9:38).
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