Last week I wrote a post called “7 things pastors wish people knew, but won’t tell them.” I was the highest read post I’ve ever written and the numbers are still climbing. It was a post intended to encourage communication. Yet the post came out almost perfect. It told the truth while not be too abrasive or coarse. Well, here is the second follow up post.
Have you ever wondered what people in the pew want to tell pastors but just do not do it? Well, 99.9% do not say these things to pastors. There is always that .1% that does say these things. Let’s look at 7 things people wish their pastor knew, but won’t tell him.
1. Just because I disagree with you, it does not mean I hate you or am against you.
Most of the time pastors are possessive and rightly so. Yet sometimes pastors are too possessive of ministry. I believe pastors should be the primary leaders in the church. Elders/pastors are in the New Testament for a reason. Yet there will be times when a pastor will do something or create something or not do something or create it. Whatever the issue, it will rub someone wrong. There will be disagreement. It might be hot disagreement. It might be a rude kicking back on the pastors idea, program, or decision. Yet pastors need to remember that not everyone who disagrees is actually against the pastor. There is no need to start a war with someone who disagrees. I have learned many who disagree are with me. They just disagree on the one issue, whatever it is, yet they are not looking to fire the pastor or do his ministry damage. They just want to disagree. They have a right to disagree. Yes, there are a few who are just against the pastor. There is nothing he can do. No even the Apostle Paul could pastor or teach them. Yet these people are few. They should not be given much audience, especially when they attack behind the scenes. There is a reason those few never get really loud in public. They know they will look petty and foolish. They are few. Leave them alone until you have to deal with them. Again remember, most who disagree with you are not against you. Pastor, they want to know you are listening.
2. I’m not always against it just because I do not participate in it.
There are many programs and events that you offer pastor. They are wonderful programs. People know you want them to be successful events with maximum attendance. However, people have only a certain amount of time to give. They only have a certain amount of time they will give. Your priorities are not always everyone else’s priorities. So, when you do not see me and my family at the multiple day event, it is not because we are against it. We just cannot possibly participate in every thing a church has to offer. You get that, right pastor? Certainly you do not attend everything, right? Remember, if you do not see me at the special event, I am not against it. I just cannot be at everything.
3. You are a better pastor than you are a preacher (or vice versa).
You are a good pastor. That is what we tell pastors, sometimes, when they cannot preach well or are kind of boring. People appreciate your presence at the hospital. They are thankful for your phone calls of care and prayer. You rarely miss opportunities expressing pastoral care. Yet your preaching needs work. You are telling the same stories often enough that it is noticeable. You seem to lack a clear unified idea from scripture. You ramble. You talk too much “away from the text.” You seem to preach without precision. There is a missing element to your speaking. You are a good pastor, but you might want to attend a preaching conference, schedule preaching preparation daily, personalize your preaching, evaluate your preaching and pray it through. Thanks for being a good pastor, but remember I need a preacher also.
You are a good preacher. That is what we tell preachers, sometimes, when their pastoral skills are weak. People are thankful for your messages. You can tell you pay attention to hermeneutics and homiletics. Your passion for the word is obvious. Yet you were not present in the hospital when you could have been. People wonder if it matters to you that they have not attended worship or small group in a while. You have visionary passion and preaching skills, but what about when that funeral happened and you did not attend it just because you were not preaching it? Pastor, you preach well, but don not forget the pastoral care needs.
4. Your relationship skills need work.
Pastor do you know 85% of effectiveness in ministry is related to your personal relationship building skills? Only 15% is related to your ability to preach or lead music or teach (Carnegie). So when you do not actually care about people, it hurts your ministry. When you barely acknowledge people or their ideas and brush them off, well, it does not make people want to serve with you. People will go with you for awhile, but if they think they are only objects for your purpose instead of real people worthy of your authentic concern, they will eventually turn you off. We all know there a few people who knit pick and say “he did not speak to me.” That is not the focus here. This deals with your inability to eat with people, to sit in a circle with them and know their stories, hurts and dreams. People do not want to tell you, but your relationship skills need work. You do not have to circle up with everyone. If you do with a few, it will spread to all. We will also see your genuine concern for us when you preach. We can see your relational skills in yours eyes, tears, smiles, and even when you do not always get it right. We can tell if you are sincere or not. It is true that “people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
5. How can you expect me to do what you and your own family won’t do?
Ouch. I know Pastor, but it is true. How can you expect your church members to do what you and your own family will not do? For example, you promote and talk about small groups and Sunday School, but you are not in a group yourself. Your wife hangs out or shows up and hangs out in the halls or arrives just in time for worship. You expect your people to give us 3 hours on Sunday morning while your kids are not even in a small group or Sunday School class. You expect people to win people to Christ, but your church family rarely sees your family at outreach events. You want the people in your church to give, but are you a tither? Do you give above that in offerings? I’m sorry pastor, I know this hurts, but it is what people think. Do you set the example in your personal life around media and tv that you expect from your people? How can you expect kids to be different when your kids are not different? You might want to make sure you lead the way and communicate with your family. Your church does not expect you and your family to be perfect, but we do expect you to meet the same standard you ask the rest of the people to make.
6. I know you work hard, but busy work is not always the main work.
Pastor, people see you in the hallway breathing hard. They know you work hard. You put in the late hours, yet some things remain undone. The disciple making? The leadership development? New Groups? Sticking with strategy and not just making initial ideas then losing them in the busy schedule is crucial. Pastor, people see you busy, but are you paying attention to yourself? How is your own spiritual health? It seems a healthy pastor will focus on building a healthy church. So, people are only asking you pastor, are you doing the main work of the ministry or are you meandering in busy work that accomplishes little? Get to the main work and leave the busy work for others to do. They will gladly and willingly do it.
7. You need to relax and let God build His church.
Pastors are often stressed out and tired. The ministry is a unique work as pastors cannot leave work at work. They bring it home. Yet there are times when pastors are not even trying to alleviate their own stress. They put all of the ministry on themselves. While stress comes with the call to ministry, it is dangerous to have an unhealthy attachment to ministry success. Pastor, it is God’s church. It is His body. Scripture says God will build His church (Matt 16:18). It is not your job to grow the church. That job belongs to God. Your job is to fill the pulpit. Let God fill the pews. Sometimes you over compensate and try to motivate people to action too aggressively While we know there is a built in urgency we should have for reach people, there is also a thing called Sabbath. You need to take a Sabbath and let God be God. You be you pastor. You create undo tension by trying too hard to get us motivated. We love your passion. We understand there is a place called hell, but let God do what only He can do. You be you. The church needs you, yet we need you healthy and happy, not stressed out and tense.