Pastor, stop trying to please all the Christians in your church.

Some of you are losing your minds trying to keep church members happy. You love what you do, but at times, it’s more stressful than you suspect it should be. You wonder if you’re truly fulfilling the call of God on your life. Many churches treat the pastor as though he were a hired gun. Do these common expectations sound familiar?

We hired you to preach good sermons.
We hired you to visit the elderly members and the sick.
We hired you to marry and bury our members.
We hired you to administrate the church business.
We hired you to evangelize the lost.
We hired you to train the volunteers.
We hired you to grow our church.

So much of what you’re expected to do is take care of Christians, make them happy, and keep them “fed” and occupied with Christian activities. Perhaps that’s all they want you to do…and they want you to do it all. This may be what they believe they hired you to do, but is it what God actually called you to do? Why don’t we take a quick look at another more reliable source?

God called you to be an example in how you speak and live (1 Timothy 4:12).
God called you to equip the saints to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12).
God called you to train others who will train others who will train others (2 Timothy 2:2).
God called you to preach the truth even when it’s unpopular (2 Timothy 4:2a).
God called you to correct and rebuke when needed, but to always encourage (2 Timothy 4:2b).
God called you to be willing and eager shepherds, living as examples to those you lead (1 Peter 5:2, 3).

You’ll be doing much of the things members might expect, but not because you were hired to do them. You’ll be doing them because they’re part of fulfilling your call as a follower of Jesus. 

Your focus must be on being on God’s mission, not on dispensing religious goods and services to consumer-minded Christians. Jesus said something about leaving the ninety-nine behind to go in search of the one. The satisfaction of the saint must not take priority over the salvation of the sinner. At some point you will come to realize there is only one you must please, and that’s God. If God is pleased with your life and leadership, it really does not matter who is displeased.  

The satisfaction of the saint must not take priority over the salvation of the sinner.

Let Jesus consume your heart. Pursue Jesus and not a model. Reacquaint yourself with the Savior in the Gospels, exposing yourself to his life and ministry. Ask the Spirit to fill you with the wisdom and love of Jesus as you lead, train, and care for your church. Lead them to understand all they need is Jesus, that he is sufficient for all they believe they lack.

Know, speak, teach, and preach the gospel. Filter everything–conversations, circumstances, counsel, comfort, conflict, confrontation–through the grid of the gospel. Let God’s greatness, glory, goodness, and grace as fully expressed in Jesus be the foundation of all you do in life and ministry. No matter what you’re teaching or preaching, always take it back to the gospel. The gospel is embedded in all of scripture!

Pour into two or three others. There will be a couple others in your church who will be drawn to the lifestyle of incarnating the gospel in everyday life, who want to passionately pursue a gospel-centered missional life. Pour into them. Teach, train, eat together, really “do life” together. These will be the seed of a harvest of possible change in your church, transitioning from a traditional/institutional framework to an incarnational/missional paradigm. Pray that God will continue to raise up even more.

Get connected with others to learn and be encouraged. You need support. Find others in your area or online to connect with. You may even start some sort of network yourself. But you need somewhere to share your struggles and what God is showing you. You need a place to learn from others and their experiences. Many resources are available to help you. Verge Network and Saturate are two online resources I always recommend.

Leading and pastoring a church is way more than serving as a chaplain for Christians. It’s leading believers to join in the mission of God to reach those yet to be reached. So, you have to ask yourself one final question: Who will I live to please–God, or church members with short-sighted expectations? Only members who are living gospel-centered lives are truly happy.

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