What We Want in a Pastor

My husband has been a pastor for the 20 years we have been married.  Some denominations would not have considered him a pastor until he got his Masters of Divinity degree this year, however, I know his heart and he was a pastor.  One of our first dates was taking a group of middle schoolers to Night of Joy. All I can say is….I REALLY loved him to have stayed after that experience!

He has been a youth pastor, church planter, and now an associate pastor.  We have been in large denominational churches and small non-denominational churches.  They have all been in the same city surprisingly but the churches have all given our family a wide array of experiences in ministry.  As his wife, I have learned a lot and God has given me the grace at each stage to find my place.

I have really felt lately that I wanted to share my heart with pastors.  Why?  I have no idea. Am I reluctant?  Absolutely. But God is God and I am trying to be better about obeying that nudge of the Holy Spirit.  As I write, I cry with emotion…I guess this hits me at a heart level more than I thought it did. Not sure even what those emotions are at this point but God will show us as this unfolds.

As I was looking through some notes from a conference I attended, I saw this term- HERO SYNDROME.  As the church, we don’t need you to be our hero- blessing us with just the right Sunday morning attire and the perfect families and wives who are Mary and Martha all rolled into one perfect individual.  We have our hero- Jesus. And He was perfect but he was also humble. We need you to be humble too. Taking the low place. The role of a servant. Riding in on a donkey, not a throne of grandeur.

We, the church, also need you to be approachable. Not visible on Sunday mornings from a pulpit that you flee as soon as the message is finished but present at the coffee shop discipling others, at the auto repair shop picking up a member of the church who did not have a ride, and at the grocery store when you stop by on your way home to save your wife a trip.

We also crave your authenticity. If all your stories come from Chicken Soup for the Soul and none of them are from your real life, please re-read the previous paragraph because you are not approachable. We want a pastor who will share from the heart- brokenness and failures, as well as victories and growth. We want to know you are secure enough in yourself that you can tell us about who you really are. Not who you want us to think you are.

We deeply desire a pastor who understands that WE the PEOPLE matter more than committees, numbers, and denominational meetings. When we are in churches driven by campaigns and gimmicks, we notice and our hearts hurt.

We want your teaching to challenge us. Why do we want to come if we don’t leave knowing that God has used you to show us where we can grow?  Some of us have other people in our lives who will show us this too but some of us don’t because Sundays are the only time we make God a priority. We need you to not be scared of the fall out if you preach the TRUE Gospel and make us uncomfortable. We need to hear it and we need you to have the courage to bring it.

We need you to be real and every time you talk about your families as if they are borderline saintly, we feel a deep sense of failure. And deep down we know they are sinners too but it seems like so much of the time you try to convince us otherwise. It is not helpful to any of us.

We are already insecure about not knowing as much as you do about the Bible so when you talk down to us and quote all these different languages in an arrogant way we don’t even want to open our Bibles because it already seems too hard so we don’t want to try. We love when  you give us biblical background  and history but please remember most of us don’t know where Asia Minor is so keep it simple.

We don’t need you to inundate us with quotes from theologians because we want to know what God has shown YOU. And we certainly don’t need corny illustrations that you try to stretch to the ends of the earth to make a connection. Just say what you want to get across and God will handle the rest.

When it all comes down to it, it is all pretty simple. We need you to live your life in front of us being honest and genuine and showing humility and teachability.

We don’t need a businessman, a committee member, a CEO, an unapproachable preacher, a networker, or a Bible concordance.

We need a pastor.