10 Things I’d Do Differently if I Weren’t a Pastor Today

Today’s blog post is one I wish I could put my name on.  It’s as though he has read my mind, and the mind of countless other pastors, especially the first three paragraphs.  Please do not pass by on this read today!  By the way, there is no agenda behind sharing this post other than what my blog is all about, “From a pastor’s heart.”

I spent most of my adult life outside vocational ministry. I’m amazed at the opportunities God has given me in ministry, but in many ways I am still a newcomer. I have just over a dozen years in this career. It’s challenging in some ways, because I see things differently from some who have only done ministry, but it also gives me a unique perspective from some pastors. I sat “in the pew” far longer than I’ve stood “behind the pulpit”.

One thing my experience has done for me, especially since I’ve become a pastor, is to help me realize how much I didn’t understand about being a pastor. Like the feeling that work is never done. Like feeling you are never really “off”. Like knowing people are going to be upset with every decision you make — and balancing whether to move forward or give into their frustration. Like the pressure of “Sunday’s coming”. (Pastors — know that one?) Like carrying the weight of everyone, but sometimes feeling you’ve got no where to share your own struggles. Stuff like that. The “fun” stuff I didn’t know prior to being in ministry. Plus, in the business world, we handled problems so differently from how they are typically handled in ministry. A lot faster sometimes.

I also spend a lot of time investing in other pastors. It fuels me personally. I’ve learned some of their challenges. Some of their concerns. Some of their wishes.

Along the way, I’ve learned some great lessons of what it takes to build a healthy church — many I didn’t previously understand — even though I was very active in the church. Things look different looking at the church from this perspective.

So, if I were ever on the other side again — and I was back “in the pew” — I’d change a few things about myself.

Here are 10 things I’d do differently if I weren’t a pastor today:

I’d make church attendance a priority. I’d build my week around the services of the church, knowing how vital every person is to the body. I’d understand what an encouragement it is to the pastor when people give the same priority to church that they give to other places in their life.

I’d love my pastor. I mean really love my pastor. Knowing how many expectations are placed on the pastor, I’d be among the group that’s always ready to help, but, recognizing he’s only one imperfect person, not one to get my feelings hurt if the pastor didn’t do everything I hoped he would.

I’d be a generous giver. Understanding that there are really a small number who financially support the work of the church, I’d be a Kingdom investor.

I’d be an ambassador for the church. I’d use my influence in the community and where I worked to bring people to church and Christ. I’d look for people I didn’t know on Sunday mornings and try to help them acclimate to the church.

If I had a problem with the pastor, I’d talk to the pastor. Not his wife. (That’s always a bad move.) Not other church members. Certainly not the community.

I’d try to get less upset about things that impact only me — that are mostly matters of personal preference.

I would pray bold prayers for the church. Daily.

I would support the pastor and his family. I would understand he couldn’t be everywhere, and never make him feel guilty for not being where I hoped he would be.

I would smile when he preaches. I’d give visual witness that I was paying attention. I might even say “Amen” when appropriate. Oh yea..definite amens.

I would serve where needed. In fact, I’d volunteer without being asked.

(Written by Ron Edmondson)


31 thoughts on “10 Things I’d Do Differently if I Weren’t a Pastor Today

  1. Reblogged this on Forgetting Forward and commented:
    Some of these things I was already doing, or not doing. But, it’s most definitely eye opening to pastor. I’m so grateful for those, and they’re are many, who are faithful, encourage, talk about Jesus to others and invite people to church.

  2. Amazing to see how many times I would be at church and others I wish I could see are not there. I’m involved in several ministries and love everyone of them. I’m at church when the doors open as they say and never miss. I do at times skip mid week service because I’m tired/lazy. I actually talk myself in not going. But, all that said I will always be the volunteer and participant who you can trust to be there. My outlook is that I am a part of this church and I’m going to support it by my attendance. I always am a tither and giver beyond. I didn’t always enjoy the preaching because it was elementary but purposed in my heart that I would get everything the Lord had for me and let the rest go. I love my pastor even though I don’t always agree with everything he does. I know he has an assignment and his purpose is to answer his calling. He is very precise, scheduled, sincere, concerned and of course VERY BUSY. We have grown since his coming while knowing how hard it would be. A split in the church some years back made it difficult to grow showing no interest in growth. Its been some 5 years now and things are turning around. New faces grace the church on an invitation, a phone call, a visit or just walk in. There is excitement in the body and we are also feeling the urgency to see growth. So our vision now is to put in place a program to teach ourselves how to grow a church and minister outside the box. The pastor is very involved in making this his priority and I believe with the Lord’s help and our persistence there is going to be changes made. Our slogan is to “Love God – Love People”. Didn’t mean to make this so long but I wouldn’t want to pastor a church because you have to deal with people including myself. What a selfless job but one that is of most importance. God help us to love and pray for the welfare of all pastors because he deals not only with frustration but the enemy the devil. God bless you the pastors of the church. One day you will see your reward.

    1. Nani, Thank you for taking the time to respond in such length and from your heart. May your tribe increase! Thank you for being faithful to the Lord, for your transparency in your response, and for encouraging your pastor. We are all moving toward the greatest day of our lives when we stand before Christ at the Bema. I want to hear Him say “Well done, faithful servant” to you, your pastor, and to me. For His glory, we press on!!

  3. Pastor Hundley, This was a tremendous article! Being a pastor’s wife for many years, I really appreciated this. Sometimes, I wish we could start over and do better…..but in spite of problems, we really did enjoy our churches and have many friends forever! God is so good!!! Bless you in your present work. We are not there now but appreciate you so much!!!!! God loves you and so do we.

    1. Glenna, Thanks for reading and for your heart-felt response. Grateful there are not stains on the pages of tomorrow. Grace is sufficient!

  4. Might have been entitled “10 steps to belonging to our church”. These should be expectation of every Christian and especially leadership. That it is not is a reflection of the immaturity of general church leadership. How critical this is to the heath and welfare of a congregation only becomes obvious when you are pastoring a church. I guarantee that a church who follows this prescription will grow in numbers and Christlikeness.

  5. I’m a pastor, and if I added something to this great list, it would be this: I would ale an annual gift of gratitude to God. It would be monetary. If I was able, it would be equal to another month’s tithe, and it would be given to the pastor(s). Bonuses are rare, and blessed.

  6. Agree with this article. I’m a volunteer admin assistant for my church, Collective Hope (and her congregations in Mount Lawley, Midland and Ballajura). I probably see more than the “average” church member, as it’s hands on.
    Last week our pastor was sick, we had a special combined service, it was wonderful to see our church get in and get things done without having to be asked.
    We are blessed to have a pastor who leads by example, therefore we have the ability to following easily his and Christ’s examples to love, serve and be hands and feet

  7. As a PK, I can really appreciate this, especially the first one. It’s amazing how few people really make being at church a week in, week out priority. One thing I’d add: when (not if) I overhear somebody complaining about or speaking ill of the pastor to other people, I’ll defend him and his calling, and exhort that person to take his problem to the pastor one-on-one.

  8. Very well written article. Thank you for the good reminder.
    Keep up the good work! God sees everything and He rewards the faithful and righteous servant leader.
    Sometimes it is better to do something completely different …like touching lives in the market place instead of those in the four walls of the church. The fishes are in the ocean and they are not swimming only in the fish tank! Be a fisher of man in the ocean! There are more fishes who are crying for more spiritual food in the ocean than in the fish tank. Happy fishing!

  9. As a former pastor who has experienced this in reverse I appreciate your feelings but there needs to be some balance. 1) Adults who work are under increasing demands over just a few decades ago. They make less, work more hours, and have more strain from job insecurity. How much time and money they can invest in attendance and giving is restricted. Yes, it would be great to be in the days when people went Sunday mornings, nights, Wednesday nights, and perhaps one or two more times a week. Stop pinning for what is gone. 2). Loyalty to the pastor is a great thing! And talking with him on issues is great. But there has to be a genuine dialogue free of religious slogans or demands for obedience. And accept that people know pastor’s loyalty to them will vaporize when God “leads” them to a bigger and better paying opportunity.

    1. Paul, thanks for your reply. Balance always comes when our life is centered only in the person of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-19, 27). We do what we want to do, and we can do anything we ought to do. Certainly, Scripture does not set when we are to meet, but the issue is more the preeminence of Christ in all things.
      As for your second comments, I think I might see some rough past history here. I am sorry if you have been under a dictatorial pastor who may have used “religious slogans or demands for obedience” as well as “vaporized when God” led them to a “bigger and better paying opportunity.” Loyalty to a pastor is only right when there is loyalty to Christ first in the pastor and the congregation’s lives (1 Corinthians 11:1). When that happens, there is unity and a genuine partnership in the gospel (Philippians 1:3-6, 27) that is a blessing to all. As for vaporizing, I for one have never asked for a raise, moved on for more money, and I believe longevity is very good in ministry. The grass may look greener on the other side, but it was probably brown to the previous pastor. 🙂
      In the end, we will stand before our Righteous Judge, and I want to hear him say to you and me, “Well done, faithful servant.”

  10. I’m not a Pastor. I have done all of these things. I can’t say it helped me, my family, my pastors or my church. It did leave me burned out both spiritually and emotionally. My kids and husband have left the church years ago while I remained faithful. I can only say that I am humbled and grateful that our Father God is patient kind and gracious. His love remains even after churches close down and pastors leave. I still love and pray for the pastors I have had in the past but no longer wish to put myself through what I experienced in organized church.

  11. That was a great article. A pastor is a busy person in a sometimes thankless job. I have had several pastors where I go. Some better than others. While I like the one we have now, many changes were made when she came, and some not for the better of the church. We had a parish nurse that was awesome. They let her go and changed the job description. It was hard to stay there when my friend was pushed out, but I love my church family. I really like our pastor and wanted to talk with her about some difficulties I was having. She agreed to meet with me, but never took the time to make it happen. It really hurt my feelings. I have tried to to address some of the disparity, but feel it falls on deaf ears. I have moved and it’s a long way to go now, and there are closer ones, but again, I love my church family. And I love the pastor, but I feel like I am not very important to the church. I have little money to donate and illness that prevents me from volunteering like I used to. I pray for improvement and patience. Pastors work very hard. Thank you for listening. Sue

  12. Hello,

    I am the Director of Poimen Ministries, a ministry to senior or lead pastors (http://poimenministries.com).

    I’m putting together a resource CD for pastors, and I’d love to use a .pdf copy of your article “7 Warning Signs Your Church Staff Is In Trouble.”

    The CD is not for sale, it’s offered for free, at our ministry’s expense.

    Thank you,

    Bill Holdridge

    1. Bill,
      Thank you for your interesting in using the 7 Warning Signs, but I did not write the article. Thank you for your care to toward pastors!

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