There’s more to being a pastor than teaching. Every pastor knows this. As pastors, we may know this at one level but what we know and how we handle our responsibilities are two different things.
And for good reason.
A senior/lead pastor needs to be somewhat like a Swiss Army knife.
You know those knives with all those extra gadget extensions like screw drivers, can openers, toothpicks, tweezers, and more with those bigger versions? Oh yeah, and a few different knife blades.
I remember seeing a magazine ad of someone who built a house with nothing but a Swiss Army knife. I remember thinking—why would you want to do that?
Sometimes, like on a Sunday afternoon or Monday morning, I can remember wondering something similar…Why do I do this? Am I really cut out for this? Am I really making a difference in people’s lives?
The average churchgoer doesn’t have a clear sense of all that a pastor does. Even those who are regular attendees and involved in some area of serving don’t really know or understand a pastor’s responsibilities.
I also know church staff members, including assistant pastors, don’t realize the pastor’s continuing responsibilities and workload, especially in smaller churches.
The work of a pastor
As I’ve shared with many church leaders and staff over the years, no one knows the weight of responsibility a senior/lead pastor bears on their shoulders than another senior/lead pastor.
It’s like parenthood. You can have many years of experience and a PhD in children’s education and development but it will never be the same as the reality of being a parent.
When our family was younger and I was pastoring the church we planted in Southern California, Susan and I were foster parents. It was a great experience for us and our family. Yeah, it was tough at times to keep all the plates spinning but it was good.
It was also a valuable time of preparation for what the Lord led us to do in the Philippines for almost 25 years.
Foster parenting was also a lot like pastoring.
Since I did both I could see some parallels. The biggest takeaway was the sense of responsibility we carried with the limited to nonexistent authority.
People only respect authority to a point and that point is different with everyone. Plus, certain limitations are imposed by law—civil and moral, as they should be.
So, why do I say there’s more to pastoring than teaching? Because it is easy to retreat to the study desk to work on messages when faced with the continuous demand of pastoral care and leadership.
For one thing, studying and preparing for messages seems a lot more spiritual and worth our time investment than dealing with all the responsibilities of a pastor, especially the mundane things.
Responsibilities like resolving conflicts, cleaning the sanctuary and setting up chairs, or listening to people tell you what they think you should do, teach on, care about, or how you should let them be in charge of some ministry.
Yeah, I’d rather study God’s Word, thank you!
When I first sat down to write this, I had several things in mind about pastoral leadership beyond teaching ministry and the preparation needed for it. Things like administration, counseling, discipleship, equipping leaders, facilities, pastoral care, and so much more.
But that would be one long blogpost! So, I came up with another option.
Our vision statement at Poimen Ministries is—Strengthening pastors, to strengthen churches. Our goal is to strengthen pastors in ways we were strengthened by other pastors or in ways we wished we could have been strengthened to do the work God gave us.
Of course, we relied on God’s grace and guidance while pastoring but there were many things we learned the hard way. We want to shorten the learning curve of seeing new or different ways to lead God’s people.
We want to be a set of fresh eyes for fellow pastors. We believe we have an obligation to share what’s been poured into us by the Lord and other experienced pastors.
Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to come alongside a couple of pastors in tangible ways. This required me to do some commuting on weekends, which gave me the opportunity to listen to podcasts.
I mentioned this on my personal blog but this past couple of weekends I’ve listened to some of the great podcast content our director Pastor Bill Holdridge has recorded through interviews of other pastors.
In the next few blogposts, I’ll be highlighting some of the specific content of these podcasts and adding some further encouragements.
How can we help you?
What are areas of pastoral ministry and leadership you’d like to know more about? Are there specific resources that would be helpful to you as a pastor?
We’d like to know! We want to strengthen pastors—that’s our calling.