Monday, March 26, 2012

So You Think Your Pastor is a Jerk?

So You Think Your Pastor is a Jerk?
Over the years I’ve heard lots of interesting variations on this line, for reasons like these:
   - calls on your day off to ask questions which could be put off
   - changes plans suddenly
   - expresses unrealistic expectations about how quickly the youth ministry can grow
   - meddles and micromanages
   - appears insensitive to family difficulties
   - assigns large tasks at the last minute
   - doesn’t give enough time to plan special events

When these or other situations come up, it is tempting to think that the pastor is a jerk, or some other title which indicates our disgust and contempt.

For heaven’s sake, don’t say that thought out loud. It looks bad, its insubordinate, undermines the pastor, and says far more about us than it does the pastor. So what do we do?

We need to check our own hearts. I have met very few lousy senior pastors. Can some do better? Probably, but then again so can we. As soon as we have this thought, we need to stop and check the condition of our own hearts. Is the pastor really the problem, or is it me? Am I bothered about something else? Do I struggle with authority? Unforgiveness? Cynicism?

We must always take the high road of integrity and character. Just because people slight us we do not have permission to badmouth them. That’s petty and vindictive, and we must do better than that. 

We need to support our pastors, whether they are in the room or not. I once heard someone whining about his pastor in great detail. He capped it with this little nugget: “He acts like he doesn’t trust me.” Does anyone else see the irony here?

We can learn a little assertiveness. Assertiveness has gotten bad press because of people who are just plain rude. Basic assertiveness is simply expressing our own desires and thoughts. And, of course, we must use respect, wisdom and discretion to choose the proper time and way to say these things.

   “I’ll gladly help in any pastoral emergency. Otherwise, I really need to get a full day off without having to think about church things.” 
   “That’s a great idea but we would need more time to do it properly.” 
   “I’d like the chance to show that I can handle this responsibility, but I can’t do that if you’re watching over my shoulder.”

Chances are, the pastor is not really a jerk, and there are things we can do to improve the relationship. Let’s make sure we’re not the problem and that we’re doing all we can do to get along.

Mar 26, 2012 Rev. Troy Dennis (BA, MDiv., MA, Arrow Leadership) is Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church in Moncton NB Canada. Ordained in 1995, he served in associate, solo and senior pastor positions before coming back to associate ministry in 2008.

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