If I had to give one heads up for someone beginning a ministry it would be this: learn to be ok when people are disppointed in you. This isn't meant to be jaded or dismissive. It is just a fact of ministry that as a pastor or other leader in the church people will be dissappointed in you. Often, in my experience, people are disappointed in me because of an unrealistic expectation they hold of me or my pastoral office. In most situations, pastors have no real chance of living up to all the expectations people hold. We can't possible visit everyone, keep track of every concern and be present at every important moment. This doesn't give us permission to not try. It just means we won't succeed. I think it is possible to learn to deal with disappointment in this arena. What is a little more difficult is the fact that as a pastor, who happens to be a human being, I also occassionally fail to live up to realistic expectations. As a servant of God, it can really sting with this happens, because often people's understanding and faith is tied up with God's servants so, in some situations, failing to live up can be taken (usually subconsciously) as God failing to deliver. I'm an not saying that this is fair, just true. But no matter how hard I try, I often fail to live up to someone's realistic expectation.
I remember once missing being at the bedside at the death of the mother of a member of my congregation. She asked me to come. It was a reasonable request. I was in town. I was available, but I didn't make it and she was disappointed. I got tied up doing something else. That haunted me for a while. One of my mentors actually helped me by saying that this same sort of thing would happen again and again.
Here is the interesting thing. If I had to look back at the number of times I failed to live up to someone's realistic expectations, it was because I was involved in or exhausted from an effort to live up to someone else's unrealistic expectations.
As a pastor, a representative of God, there is a temptation to be all things to all people. The danger of this is that I might miss the opportunity to be what God needs me to be for one person.
Preaching in Challenging Times
3 months ago