A Little Compassion For Your Pastor, Please
A Texas minister was scheduled to conduct a funeral. He was running late because his alarm had failed to ring. He hurriedly scribbled a few sermon notes. In his haste to make up for lost time, he cut himself shaving. Then he found his shirt was not ironed. To make matters worse, running to his car, he noticed a tire was flat. He took time to change it. Disgusted, and by this time thoroughly distraught, the minister finally got underway with a sudden burst of speed.
Racing through town he failed to notice a stop sign and rushed through it. As fate would have it, there was a policeman nearby. In just moments he heard the scream of a siren.
Jumping out of his car, the agitated minister said sharply, "Well, go ahead and give me a ticket. Everything else has gone wrong today."
The policeman walked up and said quietly, "Sir, I used to have days like that before I became a Christian."
Unfortunately, even Christians have “days like that.” Even your Pastor. His car breaks down, his plumbing leaks, and occasionally he gets sick or has a death in his family. If you are an “average” church member, you may know nothing of these events. You may even be one of those folk who know the Pastor as someone with whom you shake hands Sunday morning on your way out of the Church building and compliment him (or her) on the wonderful sermon you just slept through.
I’ve been in the pastoral ministry 47 years. My wife and I have two grown sons, both of whom are ordained ministers. We are exceedingly proud of them. I travel in “ministerial circles.” I love the Church and the ministry and can hardly imagine myself in another role. I consider preaching God’s word and serving God’s people a great honor. So, I’m not whining, but there are some things you should know.
First, your pastor is human. He will make mistakes, suffer memory lapses, and sometimes inadvertently take you for granted. He (or she) would like to hear about these events first hand. Usually pastors receive criticism second or third hand after being “cussed and discussed” in restaurants, offices, and stores. You may be sure the pastor will eventually learn who’s been shooting at him from the bushes but it will undoubtedly be too late to be helpful. If you have a problem with your pastor, why not go to them and discuss it?
Rumors of pastors having skin as thick as a Rhino are exaggerated. We are not so stupid we can’t be insulted. We just try to pretend we are. Be assured we lie awake late at night stewing and praying about interpersonal issues and church problems just like you.
Pastors want to help, but are not omniscient. Your pastor can’t know you are in the hospital, going through a divorce, or mourning the loss of a loved one unless they are notified. If you or someone you know is in need of a pastoral visit, why not pick up the telephone and let the pastor know?
Let us all, pastors and others, remember the words of the Apostle Paul, who wrote, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Rom 12:10 NIV
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