Being a pastor is a difficult job. On the one hand, we want to please people; that’s just human nature! I genuinely want people to enjoy my sermons, I want programs to run efficiently, and I want every service to be flawless. On the other hand, any pastor worth having knows that personal satisfaction and enjoyment are the jobs of CBS, not of the local church. It’s not a bad thing if a person leaves church unimpressed by my sermon from time to time, there are scenarios in which a less efficient program is desirable, and mistakes in a church service are simply inevitable. In many ways, pastoring is a balancing act. While pastors want to satisfy people, there’s real value in letting people down occasionally. Here are three reasons that your pastor should let you down sometimes:
- The church isn’t all about you.
Americans are consumers. We want what we want it, when we want it, and how we want it at all hours of the day. We DVR our favorite TV shows to avoid the commercials, we have food hand-delivered to our houses, and we pay our taxes online. We live lives of complete comfort outside of the church. It’s not a big surprise that Americans carry this mindset with them into the church’s sanctuary.
In the American mindset, the church is just another avenue of entertainment. For many, the church is a place to get free childcare a few days a week—my church even feeds the kids dinner! The local pastor is a form of entertainment in the secular, American mindset: Though Americans don’t usually go for lectures, a pastor can tell a few good stories, maybe even crack a joke, and hold your attention for a little while, but he had better not preach for too long!
Here’s the harsh truth: We need to get over ourselves. The church isn’t about you, and it isn’t about me. The church’s mission is not to make you comfortable. The church is about knowing and serving God. When a pastor lets you down, it’s a healthy reminder that the church isn’t there to make you happy.
- The pastor is not there to serve you.
A pastor will serve you from time to time. When you’re in the hospital, he’ll probably come to check on you. When you go through a crisis, he’s willing to listen. When a family member dies, he’ll allow you to cry on his shoulder. Though he does these things because he loves you, serving you isn’t his ultimate goal.
The pastor’s job is to lead God’s people to know and serve God. Sometimes that requires him to let you down for a variety of reasons. You might, for example, ask him to do something antithetical to his mission as a pastor; in such cases, he should let you down. You might need something that requires more time than he can give; when presented with the choice of preparing his sermon or visiting you in the hospital, he should choose the sermon.
The pastor should not cater to your and your preferences. He is not there to satisfy you; he is there to challenge you in your sin and point you to Christ. When a pastor lets you down, it’s a healthy reminder that he is not there to serve you.
- You should find your satisfaction in God.
It’s possible for a pastor to do too much for you. If he’s always there, you may place more reliance on him than you should. Your ultimate reliance in spiritual matters should not be on the pastor, though you should rely on him to a certain extent. Your ultimate reliance in spiritual matters should be upon God.
When a pastor lets you down, it’s a good reminder that he cannot satisfy you. Instead, you should find your satisfaction in God.