I was blessed to spend the last three days with 60 preachers. The Initiative brought together these 60 people desiring to improve their craft and deepen their spiritual walk. I was so aware of the expectations that surround them and their families. I believe that one way of showing our appreciation is to recognize those unspoken expectations.
- Ministers should be practically perfect in every way. We get our feelings hurt when a call isn’t returned quickly enough and feel slighted when our minister only has a passing greeting for us. Preachers and pastors are people, too. They like movies and need caffeine. They to sleep at night and laugh at a good joke sometimes. At times, they feel unable to do these things because we, as members in their churches, want them to sit up on a white horse and be perfect. What if your preacher is just having a bad day? What if they were out of coffee that morning and aren’t awake yet? Let’s practice extending grace to our ministers. They are people in need of grace, too.
- Ministers families live in a glass house. We watch their kids at church and feel better about our own parenting if their kids are talking in church. We feel free to comment on the minister’s apparel, eating habits, and the extracurricular activities of their children. We notice, and gossip, when the minister’s kids open their eyes during a prayer at youth group (how did you know their eyes were open if yours weren’t, too?) We condescend if the minister’s spouse doesn’t live up to our expectations of perfection…kind, meek, extraverted, and involved in church activities. These are not fair. Let your minister’s family be human. Give them permission, verbal permission, to be normal. Invite them into your home for a relaxed evening and laugh when a kid acts up a bit, because REALLY, every kid does! And then, give them the gift of being able to ‘close the blinds’ from time to time.
- Ministers should be spiritual giants. Truth be told, we feel a sense of smugness if our minister is more ‘spiritual’ than someone elses. We look to them to have all the answers and to model every fruit of the Spirit at all times. We expect them to spend hours in prayer each day, and be available to our phone calls at all times. Yes, ministers should lead the way toward spiritual maturity in a church. But they are seekers, too. They need our permission to show weaknesses and doubts. They need us to be mature enough to allow them to be looking for God along with us.
How can you extend grace and privacy and permission to your minister this week?