I know preachers who print the worship bulletins. I know church sextons who serve coffee to visitors. I know Christian educators who repair copy machines. Most of us do work beyond our job descriptions.
“Going the extra mile” shows dedication and commitment to an organization. Until it doesn’t
Over-functioning causes all kinds of trouble from feeding burnout to creating a congregation of slackers. If people assume that the pastors will take care of everything from mowing the grass to recruiting nursery volunteers to ordering candles, those pastors will be expected to keep it up. And I can tell you right now that the church that expects their pastor to mow, recruit, and order things is a dying church.
There’s a fine line between “so dedicated” and “so imposed upon.”
There will be times when people complain that:
- “Our pastor never visits people unless they are in the hospital.” (Maybe it’s because home visitation is the job of the deacons/Stephen ministers/other pastor.)
- “Our senior pastor never comes to our Mission Committee Meetings.” (Maybe it’s because someone else staffs that committee.)
- “Our Presbytery Staff never sends our pastors birthday cards.” (! – Seriously, I just heard that one.)
It sounds flippant to say, “Not my job” when folks complain about what we are not doing. But a better response might be, “That’s right. We are trying to equip everyone for ministry and so the deacons/elders/sexton/administrator/parish associate/financial secretary/____ have been trained to do that job.”
A good question for the pastor to ask: Can anyone else besides me possibly do this?
My colleague Rev. CL has a rule that if there are any elders in the room, he never opens or closes a meeting in prayer or offers the blessing at a church meal. That’s the job of one of the other spiritual leaders of the church. If there’s no one who can lead a prayer besides the pastor, the pastor is not doing her job.
Can you think of one thing you do in your ministry that you could train someone else to do? Note: Is there anyone out there who would like to send birthday cards to all the pastors in my Presbytery?
Image of church flowers if this pastor was expected to arrange them.