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 pastors who “love us so much” that they not only sit in the surgical waiting room for hours with the parishioner’s family, but they also go with us to our annual exams, x-ray appointments, mammograms, dental surgeries, and colonoscopies.
- The retired pastors who still live in the town of their former church and meet their longtime friends (aka former parishioners) for coffee every Tuesday.
- The pastors who insist on attending every church meeting. (Or the congregation that requires that pastors attend every church meeting.)
- The pastors who don’t take at least one full day off each week.
- The pastors who don’t take all their vacation.
- The pastors who don’t take all their study leave time or spend their continuing education money.
- The pastors who boast about working 60 hour weeks.
- The pastors who insist on having everything run by them 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.