Why you love and hate your pastor.
Being involved in ministry for almost 15 years has led me to countless conversations with people about their pastor, or previous pastor, or grandpa who was a pastor. Some were loved, some were loathed. Some pastors really acted in ways they shouldn’t have; in some situations though it was just personality conflict.
Here are a few thoughts that may help shed some light. This is not at all exhaustive and isn’t an excuse for sinful actions.
1) People, depending on their personality or season of life, want either a visionary movement creator or a chaplain. Chaplains are great listeners and are quick to quietly sit by your bedside at the hospital. Their schedules are almost always determined by the needs of others. Most chaplains are highly faithful people with quiet, gentle hearts. Visionary movement creators are different. They are driven. They lead strong and instead of being controlled by external forces, they shape the external. These people are intense and have a tendency to control conversations rather than be good listeners. You need to know, God uses both! If you are in a season where you need a chaplain, that’s great, but don’t badmouth the vision castor. Or if you want to line up behind a strong leader, don’t bash those who God crafted to be wonderful, gentle chaplains. Some churches need to be 150. The gentle chaplain has an important role and some people really need this. The church of 20,000 led by a dynamic intense leader has an important role too! We need culture shapers who lead leaders, but don’t be surprised if your visionary pastor isn’t at your bedside every time you walk through the doors of a hospital. I can honestly say most of the complaints I hear aren’t because of true moral failure, they are because people want a dynamic leader with massive influence that isn’t, well… dynamic.
I also want to be clear, by “chaplain” I do not necessarily mean those that serve in the military. The job Chaplain could absolutely be done by a strong visionary leader and the numerical size of the church doesn’t always reflect they type of leader your pastor is.
2) So what about true imperfections in a leader? People also want pastors who are like Christ, which they should. I get this. I had someone share with me about the problems they were having with their pastor. It became really clear they were mad that their pastor had weaknesses.
The pastor should reflect Christ, but he cannot replace him.
If Jesus is your lead pastor you will have a level of grace for your human pastor you didn’t before. Most of the greats before us, the Apostle Paul, King David, intense Peter, even the modern guys like Luther, Wesley, and Calvin, were not perfect people at all! The reality is if any of your pastors treated their families like Wesley did, you probably would push him out. Or if you had a pastor that treated congregants who disagreed with him like Calvin you would be calling the police. Or a pastor who used constant derogatory language like Luther, you would storm out of church furious! Yet they are heroes to us all. Remember, your pastors are human. If the greats in the Bible were flawed and made mistakes, you better believe your pastor will be imperfect too! I am not letting them off the hook, or saying there should be no accountability, I am however saying you need to put your hope in Jesus and love your pastor like a brother in Christ.
–Jesus is the only perfect leader. Put your deepest hopes in him.
-Don’t condemn leaders for their personalities. If you feel like you need to find a pastor that fits you better that’s fine, but don’t demonize and drag people through the mud on your way to the next church.
-Last, remember this is a spectrum, not absolutes. Some chaplains may have a little vision in them and some visionaries can and should become a chaplain in certain settings.