Thom Rainer surveyed pastors via social media, in person, by phone, and by email to find the nine most common things pastors wanted to tell their congregations if they could with some comments. I wanted to share them with you and add my own thoughts, which will be in bold under each thought.
1-“When you criticize a family member, you hurt me deeply.”
Please understand that neither my spouse nor my children are employed by the church. Do your best to treat them as regular church members, and do not place unreasonable expectations on them.
I don’t hear much of this at Lakeview, so this is not an issue with me. All my family is active in the church and I don’t think they are overly criticized, at least not that I have heard.
2- “I will have bad days, and it will show at times.”
A pastor is supposed to be “on” all the time. But it is difficult. I know there are times I speak out of turn. I know there are times when I’m too tired to listen well. I will try not to show my bad days, but I will slip at times.
Yep, I mess up and make mistakes. I am as human as everyone here, I often feel more human than anyone here. Please forgive me for my failures and pray that God would help me be a better pastor with fewer bad days.
3- “Not all of my sermons will be ‘home runs.’”
I wish they were. But with the number of different messages I have to prepare and preach in a year, I won’t always be the stellar preacher you want me to be. Indeed, I won’t always be the stellar preacher I want to be.
I rarely hit a home run with a sermon, but I want to constantly feed the church with the Word of God. Three sermons a week are challenging with the other pastoral duties but no one wishes the sermons were better than me. There may be few home runs but it’s not because I’m not swinging.
4- “I am sensitive about my salary.”
There are few people who work in a place where everyone in the organization is the boss. That is the nature of church work. But when you make disparaging comments about my pay and my related work, it cuts me to the core.
I have never heard disparaging comments about my salary but I’m sure things have been said. I never make money an issue, I have never asked for a certain amount, never asked for a raise, and work hard to make sure that I do work appropriate to the salary.
5-“I struggle when the church numbers are down.”
I know I shouldn’t. I know I shouldn’t derive my worth based on attendance and offerings. But when attendance declines or offerings drop, I question my own leadership at the church
This is a problem for me. I struggle with the lack of importance put on church attendance. When attendance is down, I certainly question myself. When people would rather do something else rather than come to church, I question myself. Can’t help it. I guess if you were pastoring, you would want people to be more faithful as well.
6-“I would love a true friend in the church.”
I’m talking about someone who would let me be myself, someone who wouldn’t mind if I let my hair down. It seems like everyone wants me to put on my pastor face all the time.
I have many friends here at Lakeview that I feel I can be myself with. We joke, laugh, and kid one another. This is not a problem for me at Lakeview. Not everyone will allow me to be myself, but many do. I look forward to church time because many are my friends.
7- “Please don’t criticize me or ask me to do something right before I preach.”
I put many hours into sermon preparation. I have prayed with intensity about the message. Please don’t tell me the worship center is too cold right before I preach.
There is the dreaded, “I need to talk with you” that comes right before I preach. That sometimes, bothers me. It doesn’t happen often enough for it to be a problem but it has occasionally happened.
8-“I cannot show up at every place all of you would like me to be.”
I jokingly told a pastor friend that I wish I could be omnipresent, and he laughed and agreed. I love you church members, but it is physically impossible to be all the places you expect me to be.
I wish I could be everywhere but I can’t. I try to be at as many places and events as I can. But with the ministry obligations and family, I have limitations. This is one area where I need people to help me.
9-“I hurt deeply when good people don’t defend me.”
Every leader will have his or her critics; and that is certainly the case with pastors. I don’t expect to be immune from criticisms. But what hurts me the most is the silence of “good” members when I am attacked unfairly. Please say a kind word about me in response to the negativity you hear. Don’t let the few critics dominate the conversation.
This is absolutely true. it does hurt when people you have poured your heart into, listen to the critics and say nothing in my defense. There have been times where I have wondered why people did not defend me when people were negative. The silence does hurt. Some tell me negativity was expressed but they don’t say that they defended me, they just listened.