Monday, October 15, 2012

Here Is What I Think

What do you think of this list?
This question was at the end of this list. I put it here to explain my answers to each of these questions. This entire post (sans my response in blue) was copied from the Thomas S Rainer Blog. I don't know anything about Thomas S Rainer but I thought the list was interesting and thought provoking. And after all, he asked what do you think of this list? Mr. Rainer writes:
The expectations of a pastor are endless. Many members.  expect them to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. But different pastors are wired differently. One pastor may get great fulfillment out of counseling, while another dreads every minute of it.
So I did an informal and unscientific survey of pastors. I asked them a simple question: “What do you like least about being a pastor?” The question was opened-ended and they could give more than one response.
I learned two things from this survey. First, pastors can have strong opinions about what they don’t like. Second, pastors are really different. The responses were wide-ranged and often in opposition to each other.
So here are the top ten things pastors don’t like about pastoring. I’ve listed them in reverse order. I then follow each dislike with a comment from a representative pastor.
10. Dealing with budgets and finance. “I have a pastor friend who has a finance major. He was in business before he went to seminary and he loves working with numbers. Not me. I get nauseas (sic) at the thought of working on the church budget.”
It seems that the pattern in the NT was that offerings and/gifts were brought to the apostles who in turn gave them to the deacons to distribute as necessary. I would think that biblically trained deacons would distribute finances with direction from the elders.
9. Weddings. “Emotions are usually high at weddings. Some people are difficult to handle. Plus the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception take away my whole weekend. I wish we could pass a law that no weddings can take place during college football season.”
If you were to limit weddings to immediate members only it would reduce the number of weddings. This would reduce the stress. I agree with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones statement that conveys the idea of why do we take the time to do weddings for those who have no time for the Lord or the church any other time. They have time for the resorts, oceans, casinos, ball-games, etc. Let them call the ocean or Major League Baseball when they need a wedding.
8. Announcements in the worship service. “This past Sunday I was asked to announce that one of the older Sunday school classes was having a garage sale to raise money to repair the pipe organ. Their hearts were right, but I had to talk about a garage sale and a pipe organ right before I preached.”
Never make announcements prior to preaching. Make the announcements prior to the actual beginning of the corporate worship service. Neither the preacher nor the people need to be thinking about garage sales prior to hearing from God from His word.
7. Persistent critics. “You have to deal with critics if you are a pastor. I just struggle with those who are always on me about something. They never let up. It can be demoralizing.”
I try to be gracious first and foremost. However, I also try to imitate Paul in I Corinthians 4:1-5. "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God."
Somewhere along the line we have stopped teaching people that they have a responsibility to submit to and respect the elders as men whom God has set over them in his economy.
6. Anonymous critics. “I shouldn’t even let anonymous critics bother me. If they don’t have the courage to use their name, I have no reason to dwell on it. But, I’ve got to admit, it really bugs me. I find myself wondering throughout the day who it might be.”
This one is in red because anonymous critics should be ignored and not given one moments thought.
5. Counseling. “I really envy those pastors who are counselors. They get energized by listening to people at their points of need and hurt. I have to admit that my mind wanders and I watch the clock. I don’t think I really help anybody when I counsel.”
If your mind wanders, you watch the clock, and truly do not help anybody, then GET OUT OF THE PASTORATE! If you cannot recognize bad thinking or bad behavior and find the appropriate scripture to correct bad thinking or bad behavior and you cannot disciple an individual to a worthy walk with Christ GET OUT OF THE PASTORATE. Go drive a truck or wash cars. Leave shepherding to shepherds.
4. Treating spouses like they are paid staff members. “I really hurt for my wife because we have one church member that expects her to put in the same amount of hours at church as I do. My wife is taking care of our three preschool children at home, but she feels guilty every time the church member talks to her.”
This is an area that is dealt with up front and immediately by the PASTOR. Inform the body that your wife has been gifted by the Holy Spirit with at least one spiritual gift just as they were, and that her contribution to the church will be the utilization of her spiritual gift. Any involvement beyond that is by her choice and desire only. Her primary responsibility after service to God is to care for you the pastor and any children. She is not an unpaid staff member, nor is she expected to do anymore than any other member. If that member has trouble with that suggest a fellowship down the road. DO NOT LET HER TAKE THE RAP FROM ANY MEMBER WHICH CAUSES HER TO FEEL ANY GUILT. SHAME ON YOU.
3. Supporters who don’t support pastors publicly. “One guy was ripping into me at our last business meeting.  But he didn’t bother me as much as my so-called supporters who remained silent the whole time. They’ve told me that they are behind me, but they weren’t there for me when I needed them the most.”
First, I don't understand what a "business meeting" is so maybe I can't address this. If you mean something like an elders or leadership meeting, there is no place for "a guy to be ripping into any one." I can't find that behavior, attitude, demeanor, or action in the New Testament. Second, typically members are not normally at a leadership meeting. Second, if that "guy" sinned against you, you need to confront him and tell him his fault. If he hears you, you won over your brother. If not take two or three witnesses and tell him his fault again. If he still wants to "rip" then tell it to the body and treat him like a tax collector.
2. Funerals of non-Christians. “I’ve been a pastor for nearly thirty years, and I still struggle when I’m asked to do the funeral of someone who never professed Christ. Most of the time my funeral message is directed at the family, and how God will comfort them. It’s still not easy.”
Again if we limit our funerals to members, then typically they shouldn't be lost. "The church of Christ is a church of believers, an association of people banded together by a common belief and a common love. You don't believe? Well, above all, do not pretend that you do. When someone dies in your family, do not come to ask the church in which you do not believe to come to bury him. Go to the sea-side for consolation..." (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
1. Business meetings. “Let me know if you come across a pastor that actually likes church business meetings. I want to find the secret to his moments of delusion.”
Again, I am not sure what a business meeting is, but it sounds like this comes under the heading of, "if banging your head against a wall hurts, then stop it." Leadership meetings deal with the spiritual needs and condition of each and every member of the body. They deal with prayer for power, brokenness, God's presence, restoration, reconciliation and redemption. If and when a need is presented to the leadership it should be investigated and then turned over to the deacons to serve the need and or needy. When shepherds rule and sheep follow, there is no need to have a meeting to pay bills or to decide anything. The elders lead prayerfully,humbly, and in a Christ-like manner while the sheep follow to food, water, comfort, safety, and peace in order to reproduce. I LOVE LEADERSHIP MEETINGS!!!!!!!!

P.S.  I submitted my response to a fellow pastor whom I have come to respect and appreciate greatly. He evaluated and commented on my responses. His evaluation will post on Wednesday. I truly hesitated over posting my responses as written. The question was, "What do you think, and this is what I think.  But my response is honest and from my heart. 

Please note, what I say in a "blanket post" I would say tenderly and a bit differently in person to someone who may be discouraged, hurting, disappointed, disillusioned, or vulnerable. The point of my response would be the same in each circumstance - the verbiage would be tender, caring, and sympathetic. 


LD Masterson said...

Although I follow your blog, I don't often comment - mostly because I'm trying to read a lot of blogs in a limited amount of time. But this morning I promised myself I would leave a comment on every blog I read. This one will be the most difficult.

When talking with the Lord, I often ask him to help my overcome my tendency to judge, especially with my family - believing I know better what they should do and how they should live. As I read this post, I was saddened by the sense of judgement in your remarks. Changing the verbiage might soften the words but I doubt it will change the feeling behind them.

Gregg Metcalf said...

LD -

First let me say, I am sorry. Truly sorry, you felt this way. I really am.

I have written my blog since 2009 and this is the first time I have been accused of a judgmental attitude. I have tried to always be positive and uplifting. I thought hard on responding to the question, "What do you think", for a couple of reasons. First, most people really want confirmation that their thoughts are affirmed and second, we live in a day and age where confrontation is not only frowned upon but rarely carried out.

Third, in response to your comment, "When talking with the Lord, I often ask him to help my overcome my tendency to judge, especially with my family - believing I know better what they should do and how they should live" I agree that we all need to come to the Lord often to overcome judgmental or critical feelings and thoughts towards those we love and are in the body of Christ. However, examining this sentence again, please remember, a major duty of pastors is to tell people on occasion that "we" sometimes do know better than they what they should do and we do sometimes know as pastors how they should live, that is our job. When what some people do and how they are living conflicts with biblical principles, or falls short, or is out of line with scripture, it is our responsibility to lovingly, gently, humbly, and with the HS power point it out. If I didn't think that certain scriptures illuminated, addressed, and edified some behavior, thoughts, attitudes, or actions in some believers, then I would first, be a bad shepherd, and second should find another line of work.

The pastorate is a very special gift to the church. There are stringent qualifications provided to weed out those who should not be in leadership positions.
The duties are tremendously sobering and exacting. Many men should not be in the pastorate. First, many in the pulpit today are not even believers. Second, many men do not meet the qualifications. Thirdly, man fail to carry out the biblically mandated duties and settle as hirelings.

I was at first shocked to read Martyn Lloyd-Jones thoughts on the unchurched. It took me awhile to think through that. Once I did I came to agree with him. I knew that I would be challenged on a couple of my "hard or harsh" responses. However, I thought, first of all the question did say, what do you think? Second, I truly think many men should honestly find another profession.

Gregg Metcalf said...

LD Continued (wouldn't post my whole response)

I recognize that none of us will agree on everything that is said or written or preached or taught. Things will hit different people differently. I could have taken the safe way out and not printed anything. I almost erased the post already. The last thing I want is to be guilty of sin. If telling someone to protect their wife and keep her from those who would "guilt" to death, or telling man who admits that he doesn't help anybody (a man with a supposed calling, education, experience, tools, the Holy Spirit, the Word, and "everything to live godly in Christ Jesus") to either disciple, equip, and/or edify the sheep to find another job is judgmental then I guess I am guilty. I will also be the first to admit that in 40 years + I have exercised poor or bad judgment. This might be one of those times. However, one thing you find about me is that I am honest, open, transparent, logical, and willing to "confront" sin, error, bad judgment, poor choices, or excuses.

I am like most men, I want to be liked, respected, and thought well of. I don't like being thought of as judgmental. Although, we are to exercise judgment upon those who are sinning, false teachers, error, and much more. I trust that you will continue to stop by and read my posts. I hope you will just chalk this one up to bad judgment, an imperfect human being that is still being made into the image of Christ, and the residual of resident sin, and not write me off. (No pun intended)

In in 1251 posts to date, this is a bad one please don't stop benefiting from the other 1250 and what will be posted in the future.

Thank you for your candor and honest opinion. Your comment will be with me for many future posts peering over my shoulder serving as a filter to hopefully prevent such a thing from happening again. Although perhaps said in a different way, the "air of judgment" you detected might be reduced or eliminated, I do stand behind my reasoning for each answer.

LD Masterson said...

I wanted you to know that I did come back and read everything you wrote in your reply. Perhaps I spoke out of turn as our positions in the church are very different and it is your place to judge - as in, determine when guidance is needed. I think it was the tone of your comments that troubled me this morning. Usually, I find your posts uplifting and this one just made me feel bad. Maybe it was just me. I enjoy your blog and will continue to do so.

Pat Donovan said...

Good job brother.


You really do write such interesting post Gregg, ones that are very thought provoking.
I enjoyed the read.


Mike said...

Too many to add anything to the convo about what I think. However, Dr. MLJ is DEAD-ON in his response on #2!!!!

Gregg Metcalf said...


hank you for coming back and reading my reply. I personally wouldn't say you spoke out of turn, I truly empathize with your thoughts. It is hard to be honest, transparent, loving, and share an opinion when you know the opinion will not be popular. The tone is hard to judge from the printed page, believe me it was humble, sympathetic, and truly designed to be helpful and in no way hurtful. Thank you. I trust you will continue to be blessed.