What are 2 common and powerful expectations upon a pastor?

Two sets of expectations are present in every local church and show to effect the pastor in significant ways.  The expectation the church has on their pastor, and expectations the pastor places upon himself.  Both are almost always present and almost never agree.  A pastor friend was approached by two separate deacons at two separate times in the first year of his pastorate.  One came to criticize him that he was not in the office enough.  The other came to complain that he did not visit the elderly enough.  He met with both of them to discuss what felt like an unrealistic expectation and to determine how he was to be in two places at the same time.  That conversation proved fruitful to place more realistic expectations upon him for the future.

As unrealistic as that expectation was that was placed upon that pastor by his deacons, most faithful pastors know that the expectation we place upon ourselves is even more unrealistic at times.  We want to be Superman.  We think our people demand it of us.  When faced with similar expectations placed upon me, I was usually the one person who was most disappointed I could not be at the office and visiting folks in their home at the same time.  Pastors commonly place unachievable, unhelpful expectations upon themselves, and when you combine the expectation of each individual member of the congregation upon a pastor with his own unrealistic Superman-like expectation, something must give.

Pastors, honestly evaluate your own life and ministry.  How do these 2 expectations specifically affect you in ways that are unhelpful, or maybe even sinful?  Feel free to share to help other readers sort through their own manifestations of these expectations.

What say you??

Posted in The Pastor's Soul
4 comments on “What are 2 common and powerful expectations upon a pastor?
  1. Brian, Honestly, I am feeling this struggle right now. I am not new to being a pastor (I’ve been in full time ministry for over 15 years), but I am new to being the teaching pastor and at that in a new church. No one has come and critiqued the way I am spending my time, but I am actually putting this sort of pressure on myself. I am struggling to find the rhythm of my week and I know it will come, but I am struggling on how to fit it all in. I have great elders who desire to and do shepherd the people with me. I am working on how to figure this all out in a new situation. I have written out a weekly schedule, and know that it won’t always work that way. Really any words of wisdom from anyone out there would be appreciated. Thanks for this post, I needed it today.

    • Jeff Jackson says:

      Jason, so good to hear you have some godly men to help you in shepherding and in getting settled into your ministry “routine” (if only it were routine). I am new to my current church too, just preached my 9th message last Sunday. Interestingly, it was on 2 Tim. 4:1-2 and my main point was “preach the Word” (surprise!). I’m working to establish some biblical boundaries and build clear channels of understanding about what the Scriptures say my primary role is. I need this! But so does the flock. I was able to show them God’s priority in ministry and do a bit of dreaming with them as I emphasized the centrality of the pulpit in church life, and its tremendous potential for defining and setting the tone and tenor for all that we do in a Word-centered ministry. This doesn’t just help me stay “balanced” but more importantly for me, it helps me remain “focused”. Well, so much could be said. You might want to look into a wonderful resource which continues to challenge and instruct me as I revisit it – Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry by MacArthur and team. Joy to you brother. Stay the course and enjoy the privilege. Jeff.

  2. Thank you guys for your words of wisdom, strength and hope. I myself have been in ministry for 5 years now and have only recently (4 months) transitioned from the role of youth pastor to senior pastor in the very church I was saved.
    My struggle is much like Jason’s in that I place a TON of pressure on my self and think that I have to be in all places at all times and be all things for all people. While I know this is an unrealistic expectation, I still find myself doing so. I too am strong in the faith that God will teach me my new role in His ministry and I am taking positive steps to achieve that through the elders in my church.
    Struggles do lie therein though, that is, the slackness of some said elders. I would love some feedback on how to get those deacons to actually “deac.”
    I feel as though much of what I place on my self is due to the fact that if I do not do it no one else will. Please don’t take this as gloomy as it sounds, I do have God fearing, Bible loving, people ministering men in my midst. I am just looking to get those who are still learning what a minister (servant) is and empower them to do it.

    Thanks for the post, very encouraging today. I too needed this, and thank you for the opportunity to vent!

  3. Luke Vasicek says:

    As a man preparing to enter the ministry, this is one of things I am praying about and trying very hard to learn as much about as I can so I can adjust quickly. Seminary is nothing compared to leadership responsibility. So far, the thing that has served me the most in leadership positions is delegating and encouraging others. Those two things have, in years passed, literally rescued me from being overworked in demanding positions. If you encourage people around you a lot, you become easy to please. When that is paired with delegating, people end up working for themselves and owning the project themselves while you only step in once in awhile if need-be. This article forced me to re-examine my own expectations and to remember old tricks; Acts 6 talks about the Apostles passing up some ministry to focus on prayer and teaching, I have to remind myself there are things I need to focus on and things I need to let others, who may be more gifted in that area or who simply have the time (though that sounds bad) to perform. Helpful article, thank you!

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