Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Pastoral expectations

I got the following off a note on Jordan Muck's facebook page:
He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

(The following is an excerpt from Pastor John Catanzaro)

I have the privilege of being a pastor to the pastors in coaching and praying for their wellness. The expectations parishioners place upon pastors in this church age are both complex and demanding. For the last two decades I have observed the continual decline in the health of pastors in the Pacific Northwest. It is both distressing and grievous when pastors share some of the pressures of the ministry and the criticisms and burdens they carry. I believe the best place to begin is to clarify the pastor's responsibility list.

Unhealthy Expectations
  • They are not substitute parents
  • They are not shrinks
  • They are not janitors, plumbers, or construction workers
  • They are not crisis managers
  • They are not perfect problem-solvers
  • They are not corporate executives
  • They do not have wireless access to the Holy Spirit concerning your problems
  • They are not responsible for your sin
  • They are not constructed for long-term bashing
  • They are not required to shoulder repeated harsh criticisms
  • They are not celebrities
  • They have families with real problems too
  • They are not always available and tireless
  • They are not God in human form
  • They can burn out
Healthy Expectations
  • They serve
  • They teach
  • They lead
  • They inspire
  • They pray
  • They cry
  • They get tired
  • They are human
  • They need family time
  • They must be renewed
What do you think? Is he right? Is he wrong? Did he miss anything?

You know, personally, I think there probably are many "parishioners" who don't understand this, but I think it is often pastors themselves who are most to blame in many instances. And, to be honest, I think denominations could help in many ways too; but I can't really think of anything my denomination does for the health of their pastors - other than occasionally recommend conferences to attend (which often contributes to our unhealthiness). But that's just my opinion.


Lance said...


What can denominations do to help encourage and foster pastoral health?


dan horwedel said...

Well, Lance, just some ideas off the top of my head: Make known educational opportunities & resources, retreat centers, counseling options, even just knowing who to call when we're at the end of our rope; not making people feel like we're being alienated and ignored; somehow making us feel like we're actually accepted and a part of something, etc, etc...

But I realize I am just a complainer, and I suppose someone can point out that my region has tried some of these things. Maybe I am just impossible to deal with.

Thanks for asking.