Rarely does a week go by without a conversation taking place in my world related to either a pastor expressing frustration regarding the congregation he serves or a church member expressing disappointment in their pastor. The common denominator in these conversations appears to be the unmet and maybe the unrealistic expectations on both sides of the equation.
These conversations have caused me to think more directly about what churches and pastors should expect from each other. I focused my last article on the expectations a church should have for their pastor, and in this edition, I want to focus on what pastors should expect from the church as we continue to think about “Sheep and Shepherds.”
The office of pastor is a calling that comes with high expectations and great responsibilities. I believe the Bible teaches that the church should honor its pastor and give him the respect worthy of the role. What expectations should the shepherd have for his flock? Here are a few observations.
First, the pastor should expect the church to pray for him. Sadly, we are in the midst of a culture in which people love to talk about the pastor, but instead we need to be calling to the Lord on behalf of our pastors. While people may not understand or agree with all that their pastor says or does, they can always lift him up in prayer.
In fact, the question I often ask when someone speaks words of concern to me about their pastor is “Have you been praying for him?” When we pray for others it changes our perspective on them. I believe that every pastor should be able to expect his church to pray for him. Pray for growth of his faith, the health of his family and for the strength and wisdom he needs to face each day. Pray for the clarity of God’s direction and vision in his life as he serves the church.
Second, the pastor should expect the church to love him and encourage him. I believe churches want to love their pastors. I know there are times when there are disagreements and strife in the body, but overall, the people of God want to love their pastor. He pours himself out in service to them and for them, and the natural response is love and appreciation.
In the years that God privileged me to serve as a pastor, I was so deeply blessed by the love of the body of Christ that words cannot adequately express the appreciation. Pastors should expect the church to lift them up, not tear them down.
Church, they need your encouragement and support as they shoulder the responsibility that comes with the role. The writer of Hebrews describes them as keeping watch over the souls of those they shepherd. Because of this accountability, the end of Heb. 13:17 says, “Let them do this with joy and not grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Pastors need the love and encouragement of the flocks they shepherd.
Third, the pastor should expect the church to follow his leadership. Just as I believe that churches want to love their pastors I also believe they want to follow him. In fact, I believe churches want to be led well.
Obviously, this emphasizes the importance of the pastor seeking the Lord and following His leadership as he leads the church. I think this is the sincere desire of most pastors, and they deserve for the church follow them as they follow Christ. The church should not frustrate their pastor by failing to follow his godly leadership. When a church follows godly leadership it brings honor and glory to our God.
The relationship between the shepherd and sheep is vital. My prayer is that God would give a greater understanding for each other, based on a love for Him that is seen in love for each other.