Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Would I Want From My Pastor?

I have written several posts about pastor expectations - what people expect from (me) as their pastor - sometimes positive, often unrealistic expectations.  As I was thinking about this, it got me to thinking, "what would I want from my pastor?"

To be fair, I haven't "had" a pastor since 2001, when I left Kentucky.  I worked for two pastors, but they did not pastor me (and there is a big difference). I was in several churches before I was a full-time pastor, some with fantastic pastors, and all with positive aspects I'd like to emulate.

I grew up at Macedonia Christian Church, and I don't really remember much about anything that went on from the pulpit - most likely reflecting more on me than on our pastor.  I do remember that he had a good sense of humor, though.  And that's important.  It's important to me that my pastor not take himself too seriously.  True, the pastor's work is serious work, not merely life and death work, but eternity work.  But when a pastor takes himself too seriously, well, it's tough to relate to him.

Which brings me to the next church I was in: Chapel Hill Christian Church.  I wasn't there long (and was usually gone off to college), but I witnessed a change in John, the pastor who was there then.  His wife went through an illness and death, and John transformed. Some people get bitter and angry; John became much more focused.  I remember (as a high schooler) when he would rant at/about those of us who were sitting in the back.  But I also remember (as a college student) when he led our college group on Wednesday evening.  Part of what happened was he became someone who we could relate to.  But more than that, he could relate to God, and the way he related to us was God relating to us through him.

In college, one church I attended was my friend David's home church, and the pastor there (also named John) had passion for the lost.  Real passion to see people saved.  Passion to worship God in spirit and Truth. I want my pastor to have this passion.  It's not about doing a job, it's not even about growing the church, but about seeing lives/eternities changed.

Post-college, I joined First Presbyterian Church in Evanston, where I was impressed by Rev. Dave Handley's commitment to cross-cultural mission and ministry and his care for the marginalized and oppressed. 

While in seminary, I found Southland Christian Church, where Mike Breaux was the Senior Minister. I loved how I saw him treating his family and that he had boundaries and included self-care and regular play and exercise in his routine, all the while working really hard. He was a fantastic teacher and preacher who brought a relevant word, no matter how far along on your spiritual journey you were. He also shared glory - if something went well, he was the first to give praise to someone else, including his fellow ministry staffers as well as lay people.  I attribute this all to the power of the Holy Spirit - he was allowing the Spirit to inform him and to shape his messages.  This is the most important thing I want from my pastor: to be Holy Spirit led.  All of the other stuff isn't important if this isn't true. 

So, what would you want from your pastor?


Rudy said...

I have had a plethora of pastoral experiences as well. One quality I found most inspiring was the humility of Pastor Tom Knauff of Walnut Hill United Methodist Church. I saw first hand what considering others better than yourself really looked like in action.

Pastor Gary Bainton of Rose Hill Presbyterian Church was a man devoted to prayer. He showed how advantageous a full prayer life could be. I watched him, though not the most dynamic preacher, minister through prayers and petitions week after week. I see this as a great act of faithfulness to be emulated by all who call themselves Pastor.

Finally, I saw determination in Drew Cornreich. He took over for Gary at Rose Hill. He was determined to serve faithfully to an aging congregation and preached with passion and wisdom every week. He is still preaching passionately and with wisdom to this day. I hope to have the same determined attitude regardless of what circumstances arise. Like David, Job, and Moses, men who are determined to follow regardless of the circumstances bring glory to their Master.

Beth said...

I want a pastor who has great passion for the great commandment and the great commission. I want a pastor who has vision, listens to God, AND can lead toward the vision. I want a pastor who works to equip the people to do ministry and encourages them to follow their passions in ministry.

Big Mama said...

WOW! That's a great question. I will have to think on this and answer when I am not so tired. I have a lot of things in mind--and wonder where I would be in this quest!!