By Ben Reed
You may have caught my 5 Things a Pastor Should Never Say or my 7 Phrases a Pastor Should Regularly Say Off-Stage.
Today's a bit different, though. Today, it's all about you.
Because sometimes you forget that we pastors are people, too. We’re not superhumans. We’re not mini gods. We’re people, with families. We have hobbies. We have good days and bad. We have days when we feel close to God, and days when He seems distant. We have good ideas and awful ones. We have great church members…and ones like you. (I’m kidding…)
We don’t always know what we’re doing. We’re often outsiders in many conversations, because…when your pastor shows up, you change the subject. We have struggles, too.
I want to help you out, though. Because I know you don’t want to say the wrong thing to your pastor, right? You don’t want to inadvertently offend the guy who’s getting ready to go on stage.
1. What do you even do all week?
This question is loaded with the assumption that pastors sit around, drink coffee, and read their Bible all week in a nice, quiet office. Ahh…how nice that would be. The life of a pastor is much more complicated. We’re helping people understand the deepest, most profound aspects of their lives, with all of the junk that will be dredged up because of those conversations. We’re leading teams of people. We’re active in our communities. We’re slating announcements and videos. We’re crafting web pages. We’re recruiting leaders. And…oh yeah, most of us preach and teach regularly. So we study.
2. You just work one day/week, right?
This one is similar to the first, but there’s an intended sense of humor here. Here’s the truth: that line was barely funny the first time. I hope you know that pastors work much more than one day/week. Sarcasm always has an intended angle of truth, right? So every time you say it, there’s a small part of you that believes it. So if you truly don’t believe it…don’t say it.
3. Your job must be easy.
Maybe you’ve never said this, but I guarantee you’ve thought it. You feel like if you were a pastor, life would be much easier. And to be honest, maybe it would. There are much worse places to work. But every occupation has its difficulties, too. Just because pastors get to meet and greet on Sunday mornings doesn’t mean that their work is so easy throughout the week. We do have to deal with people like you, after all.
4. Why can’t you meet with me when I want?
If you want help, you get it, right? If it’s counseling help you need, you’ll take an hour off of work to get it. If you need your teeth worked on, you’ll schedule an appointment with your dentist at his convenience. If you need your car worked on, you’ll drop it off when they’re open. So why do you expect a pastor is “open” 24 hours/day? If the issue you need help with is that vital, then it’s worth bending your schedule around.
5. That wasn’t my favorite sermon.
This is one of those post-sermon no-nos. Most pastors know when they missed the mark. They don’t need the reminder from you, especially right after they preached. The time right after preaching is typically a vulnerable time for most pastors. Try to find something to encourage them on, rather than picking apart their sermon.
Throughout this list, I’m not encouraging dishonesty. Don’t lie to your pastor. I’m also not saying that pastors are above difficult questioning. Sometimes that’s needed.
But if you’re going to question your pastor, fill it with grace and love.
Pastors: what have you heard that made your skin crawl?
Non-pastors: what have you said that afterwards you thought, “Whoops…shouldn’t have said that!”?
Ben Reed is a husband, father and pastor at Grace Community Church. Ben is passionate about "helping people apply the Word of God to their lives, right in the middle of life's biggest questions and heartaches." Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.