The Need to be Needed (& How It’s Hurting the Church)

One of the worst kept secrets of pastors is that we very much need to be needed. spotlightWe 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.

6 responses to “The Need to be Needed (& How It’s Hurting the Church)

  1. Pingback: » The Need to be Needed (& How It’s Hurting the Church)

  2. Repeat after me: a pastor’s job is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” Repeat as needed.


  3. You should have seen the look on the face of the pastor I told about our new structure recently when I said “and I only go to session, deacons, and the first meeting of the season team…after that they do their work themselves, organize it themselves, and email me if they have questions.” I was thinking how great it was but he looked super horrified…


  4. Balanced with good communication… the pastor shouldn’t be the last one to know and is NOT a mind reader, contrary to the beliefs of some in the pew…


  5. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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