Most pastors I know are like most people I know. They want to be liked. That is especially true for the people who attend the church where they serve. Everyone likes being favorite pastor to someone.
Yet, that's hard to do.
Leadership expert Peter Drucker once said the hardest jobs in America (not necessarily in order) are president of the United States, university presidents, hospital administrators and pastors. I don't know about most of those, but I talk to struggling pastors weekly. I can believe it makes the list.
Having been in the business and political worlds, and then as a pastor, I have a unique perspective. I can definitely say the hardest job I've ever done is being a pastor.
Every pastor I know wants to be successful in their kingdom-building efforts. At the same time, they also want to be liked. No one likes to be unpopular. (Frankly, the desire to be so can even be the detriment in a pastor leading well.)
I was talking recently with another pastor about how hard it is to pastor effectively and make everyone happy. (That's especially true in 2020 and 2021.) He admitted he was a people-pleaser. I tried to coach him on how impossible this will be in the long run. To illustrate the point in a humorous way, we began to cite examples of ways to keep people happy. It triggered this post.
Disclosure: Let me say this is written sarcastically, and it was done so on purpose. Sometimes it's easier to say the hard stuff if I say it in a humorous way. (Or at least what I think is funny.)
There are some serious issues addressed here that many pastors face. I want to be someone's favorite pastor too, so I'm keeping it lighthearted in my approach.
In fairness, I have been blessed to serve in mostly healthy, supportive churches (at least we got there in time). Most of what I write now is to support other pastors who may not be.
10 Ways to Keep Being Someone's Favorite Pastor
1. Never turn down a social invitation. Instead, sacrifice your family time. Ignore any actual Sabbath. (That command applies to your church; you should teach it, but you're exempt.) It might ruin your family dynamic, but you'll keep the church happy.
2. Don't talk about money. Jesus never did, right? Don't be meddling in people's personal business.
3. Never mention sex. Good Christians don't. They just don't. They don't even think about it.
4. Stick to the sins the world is committing. Stick to things everyone outside the church struggles with—or at least the ones we hide in the church. And don't you dare mention things like gossip or gluttony. Those hit too close to home.
5. Don't challenge the naysayers. You know the ones who don't want any change for any sake, even for a gospel, reaching people far from God, sake. Let the power rest with those who are comfortable with status quo.
6. Preach messages people want to hear. You know, the "deeper" messages. But don't you ever step on the toes of those who pay the bills around here.
7. Wear the right clothes. Dress like Jesus did, right?
8. Don't mess with traditions. Especially don't mess with the ones started by Pastor So-and-So. If it isn't broken, don't try to fix it. And it isn't broken if they are still comfortable with it.
9. Play everyone's favorite music—every Sunday. (You are a miracle worker.)
10. Don't lead; just preach. Give your "best" message every Sunday, and don't take people anywhere new. Leave all those principles of leadership and change in the business world.
On a serious note, pastoring is a tough job. But remember, our calling is not to be popular; it's to be obedient—and not obedient to a crowd but to a King. When we are obedient, it can be the best job ever! (Of course, every job is when we are in the center of His will.)
Thanks for joining me in a little sarcastic humor. (Throwing that line in so maybe I can keep being someone's favorite pastor.)
For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.
Ron Edmondson is a pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. He is also a church leadership consultant who is passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Prior to ministry, Ron had more than 20 years of business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner. Follow Ron on Facebook, Twitter and his blog at ronedmondson.com.
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