By Brett Younger
What do I wish someone had said to the churches where I was about to become the new pastor? My friend Dock Hollingsworth says that all churches need to recognize at least these three things.
1. The new pastor does not wear a cape. He is not Superman. He cannot fly or deflect bullets. He does not have x-ray vision. Even the best pastors do not do everything well. Ministry is a renaissance profession. Pastors are generalists in a culture of specialists. Some of you are administrators. Some of you are public speakers. Some of you are caregivers. Some of you are teachers. Some of you are committee chairs. He will be all of these, and he will not be completely exceptional at everything, because he is not Superman. Living as the church, living in community, means you will disappoint each other. In those moments, God calls you to keep loving one another.
2. The new pastor does not wear a cape, but he does wear a robe. He is a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He has been set aside by God and the church for ministry. Almost every decision a pastor makes will alienate someone. This is one of the great stresses of ministry. Pastors are called upon to act, decide, and lead, but every decision to lead includes the risk that someone will be angry. He is not deciding against anyone, but is trying to do what through prayer and consultation, he feels is best. Do not make the decisions he makes or the opinions he holds a test of friendship. If your pastor is leading in love and truth, you should try to follow.
3. He does not wear a cape. He does wear a robe. He also wears a ring. The ring he wears on his left hand is a reminder that he is called to a life that is not completely consumed by Highland Hills Baptist Church. He will be faithful to God and his family as well as to this church. The demands of ministry are insatiable. There is always more to do. Nothing in ministry is ever finished. Your pastor will not spend too much time with his family. There may come a moment when you should call and say, "Pastor, you're always welcome at our committee meetings, but unless someone brings doughnuts this next one is just routine. You may want to go on home" or "Thank you for your concern, but you don't have to come to the hospital. I've had plastic surgery lots of times."
I have every confidence that I did not need to write any of this. You know that he will be a wonderful, but not perfect pastor, and that you need to treat him with kindness. Love him lavishly. Forgive him graciously. Follow his caring leadership.