What Your Pastor Wishes You Knew About Him, Part 2

Originallly appeared at Whirled Views, June 2009. Read Part 1.

6. Your pastor probably views you differently than you view him.

Being someone’s pastor is actually a very intimate experience. If your pastor is a good one, he loves you. He’s been there during some of your most difficult moments. He’s caught tears, perhaps had to be the one to tell you difficult news, has seen you at your best and at your worst. You may have confided some personal things in him that are known only to you, him and God as you work through the consequences of sin, personal tragedies and other pains. He has invested his heart and soul in you by praying for you, weeping with you, perhaps even putting your needs ahead of his or his family’s at times.

Then a church down the street calls a new pastor, builds a new building or offers a service style that you find a bit more appealing and you switch as if you were changing from Wal-Mart to Target or finding a new chiropractor. And of course, people are going to ask “why” and often excuses like “We’re just not being fed” or “Our needs aren’t being met” or “We just need a change” are offered. For you, it’s a new adventure. For him, it feels painfully like rejection.

That’s not to say that there are no good reasons for changing churches. It doesn’t justify those renegade pastors who then grow angry and defensive and say unkind things. It doesn’t mean that you are leaving God’s will for your life necessarily and are making the first step on a trek toward leaving the faith. But it does hurt. Pastors are human too. And while you may see him as a distant leader or provider of services, if he knows you personally, he probably sees you more like family or a friend. It’s simply a difference in roles and perspective and you might never understand that. Sometimes where you stand on things depends on where you sit. But I think you should know—pastors usually see their church members differently than they are viewed by their church members.

7. Pastors sometimes find it difficult to have friendships.

For better or for worse, there is a celebrity element to being a pastor. If you don’t believe that then check out the New Testament account of those who were “Paul fans” versus those who liked Apollos. A wise pastor resists being viewed as “special,” but this tendency is why humility in leadership is so necessary. Any celebrity, politician or person of wealth will tell you that one of the greatest frustrations is that one never knows which friendships are genuine. There is always the difficulty in knowing who is genuinely a friend or who is simply there to exploit their position or fame or influence. Pastors struggle with this on several levels. Some pastors purposefully choose not to be friends with people in their congregation—it’s too risky in their opinion. Some pastors refuse to have friendships with their staff—they are afraid it will hurt objectivity, communicate favoritism or just simply be too complicated. Some pastors have been burned by past friendships and thus become almost reclusive and over-guarded. Some pastors naturally migrate toward friendships exclusively with peers—fellow pastors who can relate to the unique role and scrutiny being a pastor encompasses.

Several years ago, a pastor of a large and prestigious church in the same city where I was a pastor had a very close friend as a church member. A local seeker-sensitive church in town “caught fire” and all of us were experiencing mass migrations out of our pews to the new “cool/hip” church. His church was among those hardest hit. But then his very best friend, the person who had introduced him to the church before he was pastor, his closest confidant, took him to lunch and let him know that he was leaving for the new “fellowship.” The pastor said all the perfunctory things about following the Lord, etc.—and then went to his already scheduled staff meeting. After he opened with prayer, he looked at his team of pastors—broke down in wracking sobs, explained what had just happened, apologized and excused himself. I wish that wasn’t the only story I had, but I’ve heard scores more—people meeting privately for the “dismissal” of their pastor, people trying to arrange financial gain/business with the church, people who expected their sins to be covered and not dealt with—all while claiming “friendship.”

I don’t have any solutions to this. I’ve experienced it personally. I don’t know of many pastors who haven’t. It is what it is. But maybe it will give you some insight into your pastor’s world.

8. Your pastor may well be different out of the pulpit than when he’s in the pulpit, and that doesn’t necessarily make him a hypocrite.

I’ve laughed over the years at how people often describe me—outgoing, super confident, “people person,” extrovert. I can understand why they would say that, but they don’t know the “real me.” The “real me” is actually rather shy, mostly an introvert, hopes that the people in the seat next to him in the airplane go to sleep and don’t want to talk, is a veritable potpourri of insecurities and often would rather have a quiet evening at home with his family or a book than be with a large group of people. So why do I suddenly go “electric” when I walk behind the lectern? It’s a God thing. It’s His gift, His calling, His anointing—whatever you want to call it. Moses experienced it. Coarse Peter overcame his own proclivities. Odd John the Baptist certainly overcame his idiosyncrasies enough that he was heard. The delivery of the gospel is never about the man, but always about the message—so don’t get too enamored or distracted by the amplification system.

Some of my most important spiritual moments have regularly been before I preached on a topic that God had led me to address, but on which I was still struggling. Your pastor probably doesn’t sleep in a suit, sing praise choruses before every meal and memorizes Spurgeon and the Reformers in lieu of watching reality TV. He has morning breath, he sometimes fusses with his wife, he yells at the kids when they forget to take the dog out and he steps in a wet spot on the carpet, gets frustrated in heavy traffic and might have a secret affinity for roller coasters or deer hunting or restoring old cars. In other words—he’s just a regular guy. He certainly isn’t perfect. But if he’s a good pastor, he’s earnest and sincere and also man enough to admit his faults and make them right when he needs to do so.

Take time to get to know your pastor as a person before you make huge assumptions about him as a “professional.” You might be shocked at how much like you he really is even though your callings are different.

9. Your pastor has bills, too.

This area is touchy. There’s nothing like a conversation about money to get people stirred up. Let me just say this. Scripture is very clear that spiritual leaders should be supported by the tithes and offerings of the people who benefit from and need their ministry. It’s God’s plan. Paul referenced it as the “double honor.” Someday, your pastor will need a home to live in that isn’t owned by the church. There will come a day when, because of age or infirmity, he will need to transition out of being a full-time pastor; so he needs a retirement strategy. (There are few things sadder than a pastor who has faithfully served a congregation for years and years who can’t “afford” to retire and thus inflicts himself on a poor church or has to beg for “meetings” because he has no income. Many pastors foolishly opt out of social security, and funding for their 403b retirement plans gets cut because of tight budgets. Your pastor’s kids need to go to college. There are weddings that need to be paid for, children that need braces, cars that need repairs.

Please don’t demean him by noting every purchase he makes, every vacation he takes or every gift he receives with “It must be nice to be in the ministry and be able to afford that!” or “I guess that explains that special offering last month!” or some other witty little cutting remark that puts him on the defensive. It’s unkind and petty. Stop it. Instead, show some maturity and say something like, “Wow… I’m so pleased that God has blessed you and provided that for you. If anyone deserves it—you do!” and then notice how you are blessed for rejoicing with those who are rejoicing as well as how he is blessed in receiving your kind words.

If you think your pastor is a crook, given to filthy lucre, too wealthy—then confront him biblically or shut up. If you are a church leader and wonder what is appropriate compensation, may I recommend a study that is produced each year called the “Church Compensation Handbook” (available  here).

Finally, I want to state for the record that all three of the churches where I have ministered have been a genuine blessing to me and my family in this regard. They very generously honored us with a living wage, they gave me freedom to write, teach and speak which allowed me to squirrel away money for life’s unexpected or bigger expenses as they came and provided me with the necessary tools for ministry. I wish every pastor was treated as I have been treated in the matter of financial support.

10. Your pastor loves the work of the ministry.

You might say, “duh”—but I would ask, how many people do you know who really, deep down inside, would like to be doing something else as a vocation? If you are like me—a ton. Preaching the gospel, seeing people accept Christ, watching lives transformed by truth, seeing healing and reconciliation occur in families—wow … that’s just the best.

Over the years, I have wearied over the administrative load of ministry. I do not get excited about trying to get budgets to balance, dealing with maintenance issues, making sure that risk-management is taken into consideration every time we start a new initiative and dealing with governmental and even church bureaucracy and politics. But that’s simply the price a pastor pays for being able to stand up, open the Word of God and share what the Holy Spirit has laid on his heart for that day. I can be absolutely exhausted, frustrated, depressed or overwhelmed, but the moment I crack open my Bible before a group of people ready to hear—I realize once again that I’m doing what I was created to do. Whether you pastor a mega-church, lead a Sunday School class, host a home Bible study or simply lead your family in devotions—when you are called to the ministry of the Word, everything is as it should be. It simply doesn’t get much better than that!

I’m going to stop here. I know I have not exhausted the list, but I’ve probably exhausted you. I would invite pastors to add additional points if you’d like to do so. You may forward, link, print, copy or otherwise use these articles as they would bless you or others. The purpose in writing this has not been to complain, but to explain. Pray for your pastor today—or even right now. I’m guessing he’s already been praying for you.


Dan L. Burrell is a native of Moberly Missouri and has served two churches as Senior Pastor in West Palm Beach, FL and Charlotte, NC. He has long been active in Christian education, holds a doctorate in Educational Administration and served as president of the Florida Assoc. of Christian Schools in addition to serving on the boards and faculties of several Bible colleges.
7542 reads

There are 21 Comments

Alex Guggenheim's picture

An observation:

A Pastor that fails to set boundaries is an inept human being unfit for the ministry. That is to say, while congregations are in part, responsible for inappropriate encroachments upon a Pastor's personal and ecclesiastical periphery and as Dan Burrell points out and in can come in waves or one person on a crusade with sharp objects (my words here) and wear away at a Pastor, there do come certain points where a Pastor must be poised and mature enough to understand both his right and duty to set personal and ecclesiastical boundaries and make them clear so that congregants over time, are trained by the Pastor as to what is their business and concern and what is not. And the Pastor who, after having the reigns of a ministry for a substantial number of years, fails to have done this truly becomes the person most responsible on many occasions for the unexpected trespasses of others.

But it is quite true, congregants often do have strange and proprietary expectations of a Pastor. But I wonder how often the Pastor, over time, ends up responsible for failing to clearly teach his congregants his duties, rights, responsibilities and freedoms so that congregants, over time, rehabilitate their erring views or have reinforced their existing correct views?

And from what I have gathered regarding the training of men for the ministry, there are far too many Bible Colleges and Seminaries that lie at the foundational fault of many young Pastors who enter the ministry with a poorly developed view of the work of a Pastor-teacher. Hence, they spend many of their first 10 years running around like mea culpa puppets trying to satisfy illegitimate masters and sometimes their entire ministry until they retire psychologically mangled.

And possibly, if more Pastors viewed administrative work as God's work and not a "price to pay" to do God's work, because all work is God's work, instead of an unpleasant necessity, it might be it wasn't so burdensome.

The article is a topic that definitely needs broader discussion and deliberation among both congregants and those involved in vocational ministry, particularly in fundamentalism and Evangelicalism where Pastors are given expectations either directly or implied through the erring teaching of so many popular personalities and institutions that simply are not legitimate elements one should demand or expect in the function of their Pastor.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Thanks again, Dan for sharing your heart and experiences on this. I do believe it's helpful to many.

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
And possibly, if more Pastors viewed administrative work as God's work and not a "price to pay" to do God's work, because all work is God's work, instead of an unpleasant necessity, it might be it wasn't so burdensome.
Not all pastors have the skills to do the admin. stuff very well or with any degree of pleasure. Should guys like that feel disqualified to serve as pastors? Well, the administrative work is definitely not in the job description found in the pastoral epistles. So my perspective is, hey, it's OK if you dislike what is--for you--the drudge work. Look for ways to delegate as much of it as possible.

For my part, I happen to like the admin. stuff, but I don't think that's typical... and being oriented that way results in my being less naturally inclined to do certain other things that are really more important.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
A Pastor that fails to set boundaries is an inept human being unfit for the ministry.
Wow ... An inept human being unfit for ministry? Unbelievable.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Yes Larry, inept people (and their numbers abound) are unfit for the ministry and unfortunately there are too many inept men finding their way into pulpits. I'm not sure which part is unbelievable, that there are inept people or that inept men are unfit for the ministry .

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Not all pastors have the skills to do the admin. stuff very well or with any degree of pleasure. Should guys like that feel disqualified to serve as pastors? Well, the administrative work is definitely not in the job description found in the pastoral epistles.
I am doubtless that every function of the Pastoral office is going to be equally pleasurable and certainly it is not what I was suggesting and I share the view that simply because certain tasks are not viewed with gusto, rather simply a necessity this does not mean a man is not qualified for the office of Pastor or no man would be qualified for the office.

However, I do still assert that the practice of segregating Pastoral responsibilities so much so (meaning I accept some forms of categorizing or segregating) that one or more elements is lowered to the point of being a "price to pay" that the more rewarding elements may be practiced is an unnecessary self-inflicted hazard and more often such views should be challenged with the divine perspective that all the work of a Pastor is the work of the ministry with a divine call and purpose. But if one might say I am being too ideal, I won't engaged in a lengthy campaigned rebuttal, but I will say I don't make the assertion out of idealism but from observation and practice by more than one Pastor. However I do accept the practical reality that certain exercises are probably favored to others, particularly teaching the Word of God since the teaching gift is one gift (or should be) the Pastor has that and when exercised has a significant impact and its privilege elevated in the Scriptures.

It is interesting you mentioned the Pastoral epistles. Do you believe that one should view what is described in the Pastoral epistles as the only expected duties or simply the primary duties with the details left to satisfy themselves per each ministry seeing that the Scriptures could not possibly cover every anticipated detail of duty for every Pastor through time?

dmicah's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Yes Larry, inept people (and their numbers abound) are unfit for the ministry and unfortunately there are too many inept men finding their way into pulpits. I'm not sure which part is unbelievable, that there are inept people or that inept men are unfit for the ministry .

the "unbelievable" is in reference to the condescension dripping from your statement. It is God's great glory to use the less skilled to accomplish the impossible.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

IMO a lack of appropriate boundaries is damaging in anyone's life- just think of how many marriages are destroyed by men and women not knowing how to balance the different relationships in their lives. So much more the church leadership. I've seen the extremes- pastors who think they can dictate what you do in the privacy of your home to those who allow their families to be used and abused by the congregation because they don't have the courage to protect what should be their first responsibility. Everyone has struggles in this area, but at some point a mature adult in a position of leadership should be able to achieve a balance, and if they can't, they should step down.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
Yes Larry, inept people (and their numbers abound) are unfit for the ministry and unfortunately there are too many inept men finding their way into pulpits. I'm not sure which part is unbelievable, that there are inept people or that inept men are unfit for the ministry .
What I find unbelievable is that you find it so easy to make such statements about people who carry on ministry differently than you think they should, and that you do it in such an egregious way. As I said before, you may have the best of intentions, but you come across like a boor quite often. Your statement has no real support that I can recall. The lack of "boundaries" whatever you mean by that, is nowhere in the Bible addressed as a qualification either for ideal humanity or pastoral ministry that I can recall.

You can certainly make your point that some people can manage ministry better than they do without the kind of comment that you made.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
a lack of appropriate boundaries is damaging in anyone's life- just think of how many marriages are destroyed by men and women not knowing how to balance the different relationships in their lives. So much more the church leadership. I've seen the extremes- pastors who think they can dictate what you do in the privacy of your home to those who allow their families to be used and abused by the congregation because they don't have the courage to protect what should be their first responsibility. That is, bluntly put, ineptitude. Everyone has struggles in this area, but at some point a mature adult in a position of leadership should be able to achieve a balance, and if they can't, they should step down.
When this statement is compared with Alex's, isn't it easily apparent which one is appropriate and which one is not? The problem is not Alex's point (which may or may not be good ... he hasn't actually argued for it yet). The problem is his demeanor. Condescension is a good word for it . Perhaps the ability to use words like honey rather than vinegar is a good attribute, much more to be desired than boundaries in many cases.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

because I didn't read condescension into his statement, especially in light of the rest of the post. Maybe I am reluctant to judge someone else's demeanor, since I myself have been accused on a number of occasions of being arrogant and condescending. Abrupt, yes. Arrogant, no.

It is a fact that there are some very immature people in pulpits today who cannot achieve a balance of propriety in their relationships with their congregants. I agree with Alex that Bible colleges and seminaries are often guilty of not fulling preparing young men for the reality of their role as pastor/teacher. It would be helpful to see this aspect of Bro. Burrell's post explored more fully. His article is a good general set of guidelines, but I sense alot of meat that could be slapped on the grill for the edification and enjoyment of others. Biggrin

Larry's picture

Moderator

It's not personal in the least. I have had my fair share of accusations, some accurate, some not. And this medium can certainly be difficult to communicate in. But calling someone an "inept human being" doesn't seem to be questionable to me. I think that is clearly over the line. I can't imagine any reasonable argument in favor of it. There are simply better, kinder ways to communicate a point. I call attention to your post as an example of that. Had Alex said what you said, I would have had no complaint. But he didn't.

Furthermore, we could question the whole notion of boundaries as a qualification for ministry. In other words, Alex's whole point might be flawed from the outset.

I would dispute the idea that Bible colleges/seminaries are intended to prepare a man fully for ministry. They aren't. They can't.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Larry wrote:
It's not personal in the least. I have had my fair share of accusations, some accurate, some not. And this medium can certainly be difficult to communicate in. But calling someone an "inept human being" doesn't seem to be questionable to me. I think that is clearly over the line. I can't imagine any reasonable argument in favor of it. There are simply better, kinder ways to communicate a point. I call attention to your post as an example of that. Had Alex said what you said, I would have had no complaint. But he didn't.

Furthermore, we could question the whole notion of boundaries as a qualification for ministry. In other words, Alex's whole point might be flawed from the outset.

I would dispute the idea that Bible colleges/seminaries are intended to prepare a man fully for ministry. They aren't. They can't.


I think we could all word things better sometimes... I know that what I think I am communicating is sometimes not what comes across. For instance, I used the word 'personal', but I should have said 'personal perception'. IOW, I did not perceive the comment as being condescending, while you did.

I think the notion of boundaries as a qualification does have Biblical support, but I suppose we'd have to get into what we mean by 'boundaries'. When I hear the word in relation to the roles of church leadership, I think of a man who has his house in order, his relationship with his wife is healthy, and he understands the appropriate use of his authority- he knows where it starts and where it stops, hence the use of the word 'boundaries'.

I agree that colleges and seminaries can't prepare a man fully for ministry- again, poor communication on my part. I was thinking of a more realistic preparation for ministry. There are a bunch of guys out there with lots of book learnin', but they have not been mentored, and they have little practical experience. Many are adjusting to marriage and newborn babies, and they are struggling to balance the needs of their families with the needs of the church- and what I see is the family being 'sacrificed' for the ministry. Brethren, these things ought not so to be. I think you could call that a boundary issue, and it can tear apart a marriage and destroy a church.

But Bro. Burrell's focus is on the congregation's attitude toward their pastor. It is often unrealistic, and while this seems unfair, it is many times because of a lack of teaching in this area- so the pastor can't win for losing. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-confused009.gif[/img ] Congregations do need to understand that 'Pastors are people too', and while he has a sacred and unique duty, it doesn't make him immune to all the other aspects of every day life.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Larry wrote:

Furthermore, we could question the whole notion of boundaries as a qualification for ministry. In other words, Alex's whole point might be flawed from the outset.
And it might be flawed so I invite you to forgo attempting to judge my disposition which is something you cannot know and only I can, to argue its merits and stay strictly on the merits of the topic and arguments.

Susan, thank you for the fair assessment.

Larry wrote:
But calling someone an "inept human being" doesn't seem to be questionable to me
(For the record, and I submit any grammarian will state emphatically in agreement with me regarding the construction of my statement, I did not call anyone an inept human being. I stated that Pastors who cannot set boundaries are inept, no specific "person(s)" was identified, it was a general principle being stated.)

It appears Susan has offered some strong arguments for the necessity of a Pastor being a man who manifests the capacity to set appropriate boundaries otherwise such ineptness and its inherent dangers function as a disqualification to which you have not offered a rebuttal if indeed you believe it is flawed:

Now the merits of the principle:

1. I, nor anyone I have ever met adhering to this principle is suggesting flawlessness, rather the mature capacity to distinguish between a man who understands and enforces appropriate boundaries and the man of a juvenile disposition who does not recognize appropriate boundaries or if he does refuses to enforce them for whatever reasons he believes justifies this dangerous practice which leaves his sheep unguarded to many interlopers and wolves. So, perfection and flawlessness is not being demanded but the application of a distinction between a man who understands and sets appropriate boundaries and one that does not. For those who do not understand that such a distinction exists and can be identified, it is likely they are not in any position to attempt to argue the issue one way or the other.

This principle is derived from Hebrews 5:14:

Quote:
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

2. Boundaries themselves and their inherent value is replete in Scripture. One of the most popular (and applicable regarding a Pastor's guardianship of his flock) is found in Job 24:2:

Quote:
Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof.
It is no mere coincidence a Pastor is also called the Shepherd. And who is it that is to guard the flock which obviously includes boundaries? The Pastor, which brings me to the most compelling cause for the argument that a Pastor is not just suggested but demanded by God in His Word to be a boundary setting and keeper, which is found in Acts 20:28 where "guarding the flock" is prescribed:
Quote:
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers...
Further Paul states in Titus 1 (bold and parenthetical comments mine):

Quote:
5For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order (establishing boundaries) the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

6If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.(a demonstration of setting and keeping domestic boundaries which in his letter to Timothy Paul states: "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" )

7For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;(able to set and adhere to personal boundaries of a moral, ethical and temperamental nature)

8But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.(doctrinal boundaries, speaking clearly and succinctly what is pure in doctrine)

10For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.(setting more doctrinal boundaries and ecclesiastical boundaries as well by stopping those in the congregation who are subverting its membership through false teaching and those leading others astray for personal gain)

12One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

13This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

14Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.


The good Shepherd, the appropriate and qualified Shepherd guards through many mechanism and one essential mechanism clearly observable in Scripture is the recognition and implementation of boundaries. Those boundaries are all encompassing. The Pastor's work, the permits of membership, the duties of others, the landmarks and exists of sound doctrine and so on. The Pastor that fails to set these is no real Pastor at all and I submit rather strongly that he is unfit due to such a level of ineptness, no matter the reason, for Pastoral responsibility.

It would be of great interest to read what someone might propose in attempting to defend the position that a man who is too inept, for whatever reason, to set boundaries is a candidate for the Pastorate.

As to the article, it is quite a legitimate issue, my perspective however includes the responsibility of the Pastor over time to teach the congregation the boundaries of the ministry and enforce them. And the man that does not, I submit is not fit to lead the congregation. This is not in any way to assume or expect there are not other variables, those were well addressed by Dan Burrell, I was introducing another consideration.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
And it might be flawed so I invite you to forgo attempting to judge my disposition
I wasn't judging your disposition. I was commenting on your choice of words. If you note, I said you may have the best of intentions. IT is a matter of propriety.

Quote:
(For the record, and I submit any grammarian will state emphatically in agreement with me regarding the construction of my statement, I did not call anyone an inept human being. I stated that Pastors who cannot set boundaries are inept, no specific "person(s)" was identified, it was a general principle being stated.)
For the record, I submit that this is irrevelant to my point. My point is that the wording was, at best, poor.

Quote:
It appears Susan has offered some strong arguments for the necessity of a Pastor being a man who manifests the capacity to set appropriate boundaries otherwise such ineptness and its inherent dangers function as a disqualification to which you have not offered a rebuttal if indeed you believe it is flawed:
I think there are some issues with lack of clarity, especially in your attempt to argue for it in this post. I don't imagine that anyone disagrees with the need for boundaries. but you haven't said what that means, or how it applies. But my point is not to address that but rather to encourage you to exercise better care in the way in which your word your points. It will help the conversation.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think Alex raises an interesting question. To what degree does the responsibility to get "boundaries" in place fall on the pastor or on the "the people"?
On one hand, you have passages that put that burden on the pastor... "Let no one despise your youth" comes to mind (can't look stuff up quickly right now because my Libronix is undergoing some maintenance). On the other hand, you have several passages that focus on the responsibilities of members of the body to respect, obey, not rebuke, not accuse (except w/witnesses), etc.

And the ones that put boundary-setting like respons. on pastors/elders seem to focus on doing this by means of character: "but be an example" --to finish the earlier verse. Having exemplary character is a pretty far cry from sitting folks down and saying "Ok, here's what you leave alone in my life."

So should the pastor take some initiative to communicate boundaries? Wisdom would say absolutely. Is he unfit for ministry if he fails to effectively do that? Really hard to find that in the Bible.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Larry wrote:
But my point is not to address that but rather to encourage you to exercise better care in the way in which your word your points. It will help the conversation.
And as Susan pointed out she had absolutely no problem understanding my point and saw no condescension, so while I certainly am always open to the suggestion for improving communication, and allow me to thank you for the encouragement, also allow me to encourage you that it might benefit you to exercise better care in the way you read the words of others it too might help the conversation. So while I endeavor to always improve my articulations may you also benefit yourself and others in the exchange of ideas by an audit of your reading of their words.

So, with that out of the way, and seeing I did offer cause for my position (post #13 which is not a treatise since a message board doesn't offer nor is constructed for exchanges of treatises in debates so every single element in the debate cannot be presented, nevertheless post #13 does provide some initial arguments and more broad principles) I invite you to rebut or acknowledge its merits.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I think Alex raises an interesting question. To what degree does the responsibility to get "boundaries" in place fall on the pastor or on the "the people"?
On one hand, you have passages that put that burden on the pastor... "Let no one despise your youth" comes to mind (can't look stuff up quickly right now because my Libronix is undergoing some maintenance). On the other hand, you have several passages that focus on the responsibilities of members of the body to respect, obey, not rebuke, not accuse (except w/witnesses), etc.

And the ones that put boundary-setting like respons. on pastors/elders seem to focus on doing this by means of character: "but be an example" --to finish the earlier verse. Having exemplary character is a pretty far cry from sitting folks down and saying "Ok, here's what you leave alone in my life."

So should the pastor take some initiative to communicate boundaries? Wisdom would say absolutely. Is he unfit for ministry if he fails to effectively do that? Really hard to find that in the Bible.

A Pastor is the guardian, he has in every venue to which he is called as the Pastor, the responsibility of not just exampling but stating boundaries., (NIV)"correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction". At times he must, rather elementarily, state right and wrong. I believe it makes it rather clear it goes beyond just "wisdom", it is a requirement. The Pastors oversee the church, they are the Shepherds and when the boundaries are not made clear for believers in such capacities, the Pastor has failed and if in a substantial manner he fails to effect boundaries, I submit he is indeed unqualified, he has left the sheep vulnerable to gross subterfuge and his ineptness and incompetence simply is not merely a foible or weakness, it is a dangerously absent necessity of a genuine Shepherd.

And yes, when the Pastor teaches on the doctrine of the Pastor inevitably he must make precisely clear where boundaries exist for church members regarding their rightful and divine expectations of the role of the Pastor. And when dealing with Elders, Deacons or church members, if they are unaware of the Pastor's peripheral boundaries and any of them attempt to engage in demanding or expecting of the Pastor duties for which he cannot and should not rightly be expected, it is exactly the Pastor that has to sit down with that person(s) and make clear the beginning and end of his role.

While it certainly is, as you point out, the duty and responsibility of the members to obey and respect and not accuse, such boundaries still have to be communicated by the Pastor in teaching on the subject before they can be observed. In other words, lines, demarcations and so on have to be drawn and the Pastor is the one that must communicate where they are drawn. Hence he is the boundary setter. He certainly is not responsible for member's choices, whether they choose to observe them or not, but he is responsible for communicating boundaries and when they are crossed, enforcing them, he is the Pastor.

If it helps any here is a link to the "Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development" by Dr. Richard J. Krejcir that speaks directly to my original consideration as to the necessity or obligation of the Pastor being responsible for being a boundary setter himself (bold mine):

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=4289...

Quote:
Setting Boundaries as Pastors?
By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir

Do you think you need to set boundaries as a pastor?

I cannot tell you how many countless times I will be on my way home to my family when someone just shows up at the office to talk. Sometimes it is a crisis, but most of the time it is loneliness. Some times they show up at my home or I meet them by chance at the grocery store... That was all right when I was single, but now, as a married man, I have other priorities that need my attention. As ministers of God, (and as Christians, we are all ministers) we need to be attentive to others, be listeners, and encouragers. However, we also are not to neglect our own web of relationships and family. We cannot trade the fracture of the family for poor management of His people, thinking we are doing our best for ministry. Poor ministry and misguided self-management will fracture your family and ministry more completely than just about anything else. Thus, we need to set limits, or boundaries.

Developing limits with your time and church relations will not happen overnight, because you have trained your church and yourself in very ingrained patterns. Yet, it is a must-do. We have to reform, before it is too late.

Here is another line to FCCI Fellowship of Companies for Christ International addressing the Pastor and boundaries (bold mine):

http://www.fcci.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=93&Itemid=...

Quote:
Setting Appropriate Boundaries

The Lord set boundaries in His ministry, and every pastor should follow His example. Jesus confronted the Pharisees (see Matthew 23:13 and Luke 16:14-17) and overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple for stealing from God's people. He confronted wrongdoing head on, and His response was crystal clear: Repent. As he told the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11 NKJV). True repentance requires a change of heart, a change of attitude and a change of behavior.

The challenge for pastor is to determine reasonable and appropriate boundaries, establish the limits, and then abide by them. Most pastors who fail to hold the line are either afraid to confront people in the church or they mistakenly believe that "rolling with the punches" is somehow more noble or spiritually mature.

Allowing parishioners to run roughshod over the pastor hurts the kingdom of God in several ways. First and foremost, it violates the scriptural mandate to respect and honor our leaders (see 1 Timothy 5:17). Also, shabby treatment of the pastor inevitably spreads to other members of the congregation and the community. Third, the entire body suffers when the pastor suffers, because defending himself from incessant attack saps his energy and draws his attention away from the work of the ministry. Finally, if the offenders are never brought to discipline, they will never grow into the fullness of life in Jesus Christ. We all need to be confronted lovingly but firmly about our sin. Failure to confront abuses in the church leads only to more egregious offenses. Our silence only sanctions greater sin.

Interestingly a far more involved and detailed prescription regarding boundaries and their enforcement is provided at the same link, far exceeding simply "exampling":

Quote:
Establishing firm boundaries is a three-step process:

1. Set the ground rules. Every pastor should clearly explain to the staff, church leaders and members what type of behavior is not acceptable and why. If he has allowed his boundaries to be violated in the past, it is time to politely but firmly establish that the rules have changed.

2. Act quickly and decisively when treated badly. When stung with a word, some pastors will use the word "ouch" to make their point. If possible, talk to the offending person privately, outlining the issue, clarifying the standard, and asking for a change in the future. If an apology is in order, ask for one. Contrition is a key part of repentance.

3. If the offense is repeated, don't back off. Follow up with the offender and explain the consequences that will apply if the inappropriate behavior happens again. For example, a person may be removed from leadership if he fails to control his temper, or he may be reproved publicly (see 1 Timothy 5:20).

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

+++MODERATOR NOTE+++
I have removed a couple of off topic posts. Any further concerns you have about another poster's choice of words should be handled via PM or email in order to preserve the topic.

I apologize for any way in which I have contributed to this particular rabbit trail. Please consider this Leporidae henceforth to be Hasenpfeffer. Thank you.

+++end moderator note+++

Duane Braswell's picture

Susan,

I can not imagine what you must have taken off based on what you left here. I am a pastor and read the article and was moved nearly to tears with its accuracy. I reread it imediately to see where I was to be chastened for 'boundaries.' I could find the term no where in the article. I saw the fact that the pastor loves his people as a main thrust of the article and I could not agree more. But in defense of those of us who are 'inept.' for the position, I can only reply: "Yes, I am." If there is someone else who is not only qualified, but 'ept' please send them. My understanding was God uses the foolish of this world. No pastor is capable, only God has the ability to do His work. Yet there are qualifications and I do not see 'boundary setter' as one of them. Nor do I find it appropriate to blame the college/seminary for the failings of the man. Shall we not blame their mothers and fathers as well for their human failings? Was it only upon going to school to learn doctrine, languages and practical ministry that the man becomes inept? Perhaps the blame should go to the pulpet committee for not being able to see through their apparent qualifications into their innermost hearts and judge them correctly. I would also note that many non educated men have these same issues, the heart that draws many to ministry can easily be crushed. How this article spawned a discussion as to how a pastor should set boundaries is beyond me. I do follow the line of thought, but how it was linked to things like, Your pastor has bills, your pastor loves you, your pastor might be friendless. Setting these boundaries is NOT Christlike. What boundary did the Lord impose upon Himself, His food was the work. I know, we are not our Lord, AMEN. But even when the disciples were looking forward to a little R&R with the Lord, instead they ended up serving 5000 men and their families dinner. (Mark 6:32 ff) I see the disciples forming boundaries by asking the Lord to send them home that they might eat. There are times that the boundaries must be broken.
I am not seeking license to shun my responcibility towards my family, far from it. As I teach in church, God comes first, family second and job well down the list, I know that there are Pastors that have been taken out of the position way too late, and many that are not qualified in the first place. BUT PLEASE!!!! If the man is qualified, let him be! Who are we to judge another man's servant? If he is not qualified, two should approach and try to correct, if not... we all know the sequence. Your example of failing to set them between men and women is a qualification issue, not a competency issue. He needs to protect his testimony and that of the church.

Alex, you rightly defended yourself as stating only you know your disposition. That is right and true. We however being unable to determine it, can only interpret your words. All communicators must eventually learn that we are 100% responcible for making sure that we are not misunderstood. It is by far one of the hardest parts of communicating. I will take your word for it that I misread your statement. But I assure you, it was NOT clear that you were being critical. Perhaps the phrase "inept human being" and "Pastor" should not be used in the same sentence. Actually any person/position and "inept human being" in the same sentence would be taken as offensive by that person/persons that fill the position. As the article was pointing out, most people do not know even half the story of their pastor and anyone else in the church.

He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent. - Augustine

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Seeing that we have been traveling, I am now able to respond here, though tardy.

Duane Braswell wrote:
But in defense of those of us who are 'inept.' for the position, I can only reply: "Yes, I am." If there is someone else who is not only qualified, but 'ept' please send them. My understanding was God uses the foolish of this world.
And God has no intention of such persons to remain foolish. If a person is inept, they indeed are not fit for the Pastorate.

Duane Braswell wrote:
No pastor is capable, only God has the ability to do His work. Yet there are qualifications and I do not see 'boundary setter' as one of them.
Sentimental sound bite, baaaaaad doctrine. A Pastor must be capable. Your assertion that only God has the ability to do his work is right but you wrongly assume that this means the Pastor is not to be measured or evaluated for his fitness or capacity. Wrong. Ironically your recognition that there are "qualifications" a Pastor must meet belies your negation of evaluating a Pastor's ability.

I find your objection interesting. While you, along with others have mounted a protest, not a single one of you has provided a single line of argument from Scripture for your position that boundary setting is not part of the function of a Pastor while I have, at great length, provided my personal position and rebuttal and that from two rather excellence and respected sources to which you nor anyone else objecting has provided even a cricket's chirp of rebuttal.

Duane Braswell wrote:
How this article spawned a discussion as to how a pastor should set boundaries is beyond me.
Well Duane I will tell you how it was spawned because in my initial post I stated why, which leads me to wonder (remember I am just wondering I am not accusing, I don't know) if you bothered to read before stating this. But because I do want to be gracious, always, I will post again, which I stated in the very first paragraph of my very first post, why I made my observation:

Quote:
A Pastor that fails to set boundaries is an inept human being unfit for the ministry. That is to say, while congregations are in part, responsible for inappropriate encroachments upon a Pastor's personal and ecclesiastical periphery and as Dan Burrell points out and in can come in waves or one person on a crusade with sharp objects (my words here) and wear away at a Pastor, there do come certain points where a Pastor must be poised and mature enough to understand both his right and duty to set personal and ecclesiastical boundaries and make them clear so that congregants over time, are trained by the Pastor as to what is their business and concern and what is not.
Quote:
BUT PLEASE!!!! If the man is qualified, let him be!
No one has suggested otherwise. However, ineptness is not a qualifier, it lends itself toward disqualification.

Duane Braswell wrote:
Perhaps the phrase "inept human being" and "Pastor" should not be used in the same sentence.
If one is a Pastor and they are an inept human being their is no error in stating what is true and in fact, setting up draconian rules that legitimate words and descriptions may not be said because it offends certain senses is a far worse violation of truth and the pursuit of honesty than someone's feelings.
Duane Braswell wrote:
Actually any person/position and "inept human being" in the same sentence would be taken as offensive by that person/persons that fill the position.
And imagine the offense the sheep experience being Pastored by an inept man.
Duane Braswell wrote:
As the article was pointing out, most people do not know even half the story of their pastor and anyone else in the church.
I agree many don't and I nor anyone was rebutting that and in fact the article itself was commended I simply was providing an additional observation/reflection.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

One of the qualifications in the pastorals is "apt to teach," so there is no doubt that ineptness ought to be remedied and some kinds of ineptness are disqualifiers.
But ineptness at getting others to respect boundaries... not one of them.
But I'll agree that where there is room to grow, that growth is always a good thing. So by all means, let's all get more, um, ept.

Edit: and I'll go so far as to say that some skill in boundaries has some value, too. It's just that in my own experience, no setting of boundaries of any sort has proved to be necessary at all. Folks just treat us well, and it's been that simple. But I know it's not like that for everyone, so some pastors will have to communicate things like "Hey, I'm responsible to God to be your shepherd, but I'm also answering to God for being a husband and father and so I have to set some limits on one activity in order to be faithful in the other."

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.