Providing a Pastor to our Pastors
The job expectations for a pastor today are impossible for any human to fulfill. He is to be an evangelist, discipler, manager, counselor, comforter, prayer warrior, theologian, philosopher, caretaker, administrator, manager, supervisor, C.F.O., C.E.O., M.F.C.C., C.P.A. and a dozen other descriptors, all on any given day of the week. In addition he is to be a role model of a family man, while being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While most families enjoy three-day holidays which the American culture provides occasionally, a pastor only enjoys these if he takes his vacation time concurrent with a Memorial Day or Labor Day weekend. Though he may get an extra day off in a holiday week, it is unlikely that he will find time to take it. If he does, it cannot be a Saturday through Monday, because Sunday always falls in between.
A pastor has many friends, but no friends. He is expected to be a friend to everyone in the congregation, but few are friends to him. Most of the friendships are not naturally developed, but based upon the office and professional position of the pastor. He is to be a professional and a pastor to the congregation. He is a professional pastoral friend. Most, if not all, of his significant interaction and relationships are within the context of the local church, for he has little time for any others.
Where does he go when he is hurting, when he needs someone just to listen, when he needs to bounce ideas off of another human? It is dangerous and sometimes unwelcome if not threatening to leaders or friends within the flock for which is to be leading, having vision, and being the spiritual guide.
Before becoming District Superintendent, I was a pastor for 23 years. I know that when the districts in which I served were looking for a District Superintendent, I, along with many other pastors, desired that he first and foremost be a pastor for the pastors. We needed someone who could listen with empathy, identify with experiential understanding, and counsel with love and care. He did not need always to agree, but he did need to be agreeable. Though administration is an expected role of the District Superintendent, we were more interested in his concern for our ministry, our families, and holding us to an accountable and ongoing love relationship with the Lord.
Though I will not be any more perfect a pastor to our pastors than they are perfect men as they serve their congregations, it is my desire to make these choice servants of God who are on the front lines of the spiritual battlefield a priority of the RMD ministry. If we take good care of our pastors, they will take care of the ministries entrusted to them.