During my time on staff at a different local church than I serve now, I truly believed that the senior pastor should be involved in every event and at every meeting of the church. Truthfully speaking, I would get irritated and even resentful if the pastor didn’t attend everything the church had going on. I also knew that some church members felt the same way.
But, after nearly seven years as a senior pastor, I no longer feel that way. In fact, I feel the exact opposite now, and if you’re a church member who thinks your pastor should be at every function and meeting, I would like you to reconsider.
Pastors can have very demanding schedules, and one temptation pastors face is to neglect the unseen duties in order to fulfill the more obvious expectations. What do I mean by this? The most important responsibilities the pastor must fulfill is to take care of his family (otherwise, according to 1st Tim. 3:1-7, he’s not qualified to be a pastor) and prepare to teach the Word of God (2nd Tim. 4:4). He must also take care of himself and his congregation spiritually through the spiritual disciplines—such as shepherding, discipleship, prayer and Bible intake.
These things, however, are often not viewed by the pastor’s congregation. The members don’t watch him care for his family, or prepare to teach or care for himself or others spiritually. This is often done in private; which means, if the pastor feels the burden to fulfill every expectation that the church puts on him, he may be tempted to neglect these unseen, weightier matters to please people by doing the more visible duties such as meetings and events.
Let me give you an example from my own pastorate. We have a monthly food pantry at our church. I love this ministry. We help a lot of families. It is a great outreach and our people work so hard. But I usually don’t attend it. Why? It’s on Saturday morning. I work six days a week every week. Add on top of that, a lot of nights during the week, I am away from my home doing ministry. Therefore, I do my absolute best to protect Friday night and all-day Saturday for my family. That time period belongs to my wife and daughter—no one else. And my church should be thankful for this, because if I neglect my family, not only am I not fit to be a pastor, my ministry at the church will soon fall apart.
Let me give you another example. There have been multiple occasions when people have asked me to meet or attend some function or meeting during the times when I plan to prepare my sermons or teachings. Often times, I can move around my schedule to accommodate people, but in many cases, I do not. I must protect my time to prepare to preach and teach the Word of God, because it is the most important duty I have as a pastor. If I neglect to prepare to feed my congregation God’s wholesome word, I am not doing my job.
So, here’s what I want you to do. First, pray for your pastor. He needs it. Second, October is coming up. It is Pastor Appreciate Month. Do something thoughtful for him and his family. Third, ask your pastor if he feels that he has sufficient amount of time to care for his family, prepare to teach and take care of himself spiritually. If he doesn’t, ask him how you can help free up some of his time. You don’t want your pastor at everything; not only for his sake but for the health of the church as a whole.
Thanks for reading!
Brandon Sutton is the pastor at Blue Ridge Christian Union Church and the founder of Sutton Church Consulting (Suttonconsultations.com). You can email him at email@example.com