One of the worst kept secrets of pastors is that we very much need to be needed. We like the attention that comes with a pulpit and a microphone. It’s fun to be beloved. We like to fix things or at least we like to believe we can.
Okay that’s actually four secrets. And what’s also true is that some congregations 1) do not think they need their pastor, 2) mess with the sound system (Note: this is a metaphor), 3) Do not love their pastor, and 4) are beyond anybody’s ability to be fixed.
Sometimes we pastors make ministry about us. And it’s hurting the church we love.
Among the behaviors that are wrecking things:
- The pastor who “loves us so much” that he not only sits in the surgical waiting room for hours with the parishioner’s family, but he also goes with us to our annual exams, x-ray appointments, mammograms, dental surgeries, and colonoscopies.
- The retired pastor who still lives in the town of his former church and meets his longtime friends (aka former parishioners) for coffee every Tuesday.
- The pastor who insists on attending every church meeting. (Or the congregation that requires that the pastor attends every church meeting.)
- The pastor who doesn’t take at least one full day off each week.
- The pastor who doesn’t take all her vacation.
- The pastor who doesn’t take all his study leave time or spend his continuing education money.
- The pastor who boasts about working 60 hour weeks.
- The pastor who insists on having everything run by her before being purchased, printed, ordered, assigned, or instituted.
A thriving 21st Century Church is all about giving permission, setting free, minimizing the hoops to jump through, and teaching the faithful how to pray, lead, serve, and love their neighbors without constant pastoral supervision.
As long as we make our people dependent on us, we might feel important but our congregants will feel spiritually disempowered. If we love the church we serve, we can’t make it about us.