What should we expect of pastors?
Do not expect your pastor to run faster than a speeding locomotive, leap over tall buildings, bench-press a thousand pounds or eat 50 West Virginia hot dogs in 10 minutes.
What should we expect of our pastor?
Remember, pastors are also preachers, administrators, teachers, shepherds, counselors, builders, fundraisers, evangelists, missionaries, comforters, advisors and anything else we may need. We always expect more than any one person could possibly be. Let's quit daydreaming and become more pragmatic.
1. We want our pastor to be a superb preacher, to prepare and deliver the finest sermons. That takes hours of preparation. That is the prophetic role.
2. When the pastor assumes the priestly role we know, he or she is interceding for us before the throne of God. The pastor is always involved with worship, education, music, evangelism, directing the business affairs of the church and all that happens in parish life.
3. For some pastors and congregants, the pastoral prayer each Sunday morning is the highlight of the worship experience.
4. The pastor is the most important teacher of the church. St. Paul wrote, "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ . . ." (Ephesians 4:11-12). He teaches as he preaches and preaches as he teaches.
5. We want the pastor to be the chief soul winner of the church, but if he has to do it all the church will never grow very much. One of the pastor's primary responsibilies is to teach you -- to equip you to do the work of ministry. An ancient proverb says, "He who wins souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30). The privilege of every Christian.
6. Promoter of the church. The best promotion cannot be purchased. Individuals who are supporters, backers, boosters and those who enjoy bragging about how their pastor delivers superb sermons each Sunday do that. That is "passing the faith along."
7. We expect our pastors to give wise counsel and to always have time to listen to our problems and then give us helpful guidance.
You may add suggestions to this list. We all need and want a pastor's wise counsel in times of need. The words and prayers of a caring pastor can make or break us in times of disappointment and serious illness. Show special appreciation for your pastor this month.
We may also have a role in being a pastor for our pastors. The doctor always needs a physician, the counselor needs someone who will listen and the pastor always needs pastoral care. There is a role for all of us in helping our pastor be all we ever expect or want him or her to be. Be alert to the needs of the person whom we want to be all things that we as parishioners ever need. I hope you enjoy bragging on your pastor as much as I do mine. I cannot imagine anyone being any better -- a genuine role model for other pastors and parishioners.
Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist who can be reached at P.O. Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560; phone 304-757-6089.