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Why I’m glad not to be that kind of pastor

Posted by on Dec 10, 2010 in blog links, elders, office | 5 comments

Why I’m glad not to be that kind of pastor

I wrote the post “Why I’m glad not to be that kind of pastor” in response to another blog post. But, this post explains much about my understanding of edlers/pastors. I think it is a good post to closer out the week of my “Dangerous Sunday” series.

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Why I’m glad not to be that kind of pastor

A few days ago, John Smulo at “smulospace” wrote a post called “Why I’m Glad Not To Be A Pastor Anymore“. John says that he is disillusioned with the “predominant models of ‘pastor’” and that he’s glad that he’s not in that position anymore because:

  1. I get to spend so much more time with my family.
  2. I get to spend more time with friends.
  3. It’s great to just be a married guy with kids, who owns a website and blog design business.
  4. I have time to be involved in my community through our local Rotary Club.
  5. I needed to recover from church burnout.

I understand what John is talking about, but not from experience, only from observing other “pastors”. Actually, I don’t think the problem is with being a “pastor” per se, but with the unscriptural expectations that many Christians place on those they recognize as leaders (especially elders or “pastors”). For example, a few months ago in a post called “Responsibilities and Expectations of Elders“, I published a standard job description that is published by a denominational agency:

  1. Plan and conduct the worship services; prepare and deliver sermons; lead in observance of ordinances.
  2. Lead the church in an effective program of witnessing and in a caring ministry for persons in the church and community.
  3. Visit members and prospects.
  4. Conduct counseling sessions; perform wedding ceremonies; conduct funerals.
  5. Serve as chairman of the Church Council to lead in planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and evaluating the total church program.
  6. Work with deacons, church officers, and committees as they perform their assigned responsibilities; train and lead the deacons in a program of family ministries.
  7. Act as moderator of church business meetings.
  8. Cooperate with associational, state, and denominational leaders in matters of mutual interest and concern; keep the church informed of denominational development; represent the church in civic matters.
  9. Serve as chief administrator of the paid church staff; supervise the work of assigned paid staff workers.

In that post, I stated that these (for the most part) are expectations placed on “pastors” by church organizations and many believers, but they are not scriptural expectations or requirements.

Here’s the thing… I’m an elder… I pastor… but I’m not “that kind of pastor”. And, I’m glad not to be that kind of pastor. Why?

1. No one expects me to be obedient for them, and I’m not paid to be obedient for others. Everyone who is part of the church recognizes that it is their responsibility to serve, teach, care, evangelize, etc.

2. When I talk about the difficulties of working, having a family, and serving other people in the church and outside the church, I’m not talking from theory. No. I actually do all of those things. I work. I have a family. I serve other people in the church and outside the church. By the way, my example also removes excuses when someone would want to say, “But I don’t have time.”

3. No one wonders if I serve them only because I’m paid. They don’t wonder what would happen if another church offered me more money. They don’t wonder if I’m part of them only because they hired me.

4. I’m free to do whatever God leads me to do. My time is not taken up with meetings and planning and other “duties and responsibilities” that may take time away from serving or loving people that God brings across my path.

5. I’m part of the church. I’m not the main guy or some outside expert or professional. I’m just another brother who is struggling in his walk with Christ just like everyone else. Hopefully, since I’ve been recognized by the church, my walk is at least a little more mature and is a good example for others to follow. This also means that I’m free to say, “No”, if someone asks me to do something.

6. The church are my friends. I don’t have to keep people at arm’s distance. I don’t have to worry about job security if people find out that I’m not perfect or I don’t have all the answers.

7. Since I’m not the only one responsible for teaching – all of us are responsible to teach – then I’m also able to learn and be encouraged by the church. I can exercise my spiritual gifts in serving others and others can exercise their spiritual gifts as well. I don’t have to try to be (or pretend to be) a “jack-of-all-trades”.

There are so many other reasons why I’m glad not to be “that kind of pastor”. But, primarily, I’m glad that I’m actually able to pastor (that is, care for people), without being required to handle administrative, organizational, and structural requirements that other “pastors” are required to deal with.


5 Comments

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  1. 12-10-2010

    I’m glad you’re not that kind of pastor too! You encourage me. A lot.

  2. 12-10-2010

    Oh, shoot. I had just made up the sign for your parking space. ;)

    I’m glad you’re not that kind of pastor too!
    I miss our brotherly fellowship!

  3. 12-10-2010

    Cindy,

    Thank you very much. I appreciate the encouragement and kind words.

    Danny,

    We miss you too! Thank you for pastoring me and my family. :)

    -Alan

  4. 12-10-2010

    Yeah, those expectations are often times life threatening.

    Though my church is in many ways, traditional, I’ve been very excited to see how things work with our “pastor” and I mean that in terms of the traditional office, not the mere biblical definition…which is better, even my pastor says so!

    He’s on staff, one of a small number of people, and though he fills the roles of a traditional pastor, he still works. He took the ‘position’ because while praying one day for guidance, the Lord made him aware of Windsor Park Baptist Church…a little community of 12 members, all over 65. The previous church of which he was a member was spread out through the U.S. when the navy base closed, so Grover went to Windsor, gave them the require resume, and when in the interview was asked about salary he said, “really, I’d do it for free because it’s a matter of calling.”

    He has a salary but it is modest, and regularly supplemented by teaching college classes, teaching at a home school co-op, driving a cab, coaching basketball, or tossing papers. In every way the guy has been a model of (in)sane biblical living.

    The interesting thing is that as “pastor” (traditional office) he’s kind of like a janitor, grounds keeper, community organizer, and a resident college level bible professor. He works hard to teach people how to be and make disciples, but I’m not sure that’s what he’s paid for…every body does that.

    I started attending Windsor Park after praying with my previous church’s elders…it was Grover (whom I had just met weeks prior), myself, 13 elderly folks, and two other college students. Without special programs, mailers, titantron televisions, or a sweet website, the Lord has managed to use this group of people in some amazing ways. We seen many of our elderly go to be with the Lord, many young people go into traditional and more anabaptist style churches to be staff or take their money, time, and training to help while they work elsewhere, sent missionaries all over the world (thailand, peru, a special place in asia, japan, and a country we cannot name), and formed a team with a church of homeless people that meets downtown in our city, and their pastor helps our band play drums. In all of this I’ve seen Jesus bring people off the streets, transform hardened elderly curmudgeons into Jesus loving evangelists in the months prior to their death, addictions permanently broken, addictions come back and the addicted still loved and still helping cook common meals, I’ve seen people baptized, be given free housing, learn to work, stop many kinds of sins, be forgiven of many others, I’ve seen 16 year old kids learn New Testament Greek, illiterate people participate in bible studies with doctoral students in New Testament, and even young earth creationists eating lunch with guy from the local university science department who is doing ground breaking work in extremophile DNA.

    All of this to say, I don’t think we have that kind of pastor at our church. But I want to mention what we do there as an example of an earthen vessel containing the precious treasure of the gospel. Our wine skins have changed to fit the wine, but remain so much different from everybody else’s. It’s like a little colony of the Kingdom of the Heavens.

  5. 12-10-2010

    Geoff,

    That sounds like a great community! Thank you for sharing about your pastor.

    -Alan

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