Whenever I see clothing labeled one size fits all, I’m skeptical. Chances are it will only fit one size of person well and everyone else will be uncomfortable. For those who have a small frame, the garment will be too big; for others it will be too short or too tight. Rarely will it fit well. The same is true of your pastor’s job description.
Many churches treat the role of pastor as a one job description fits all role. Often it starts by asking, “What do we want in a pastor?” Then they construct a profile of their ideal pastor. When the new pastor steps into the role, some things don’t fit. The church then spends a lot of effort trying to get the pastor to conform to their ideas of what a pastor should be. This is terribly stressful for the pastor, especially if he has any people-pleasing tendencies. There are no cookie cutter pastors.
Something needs to change. We have to stop trying to shape pastors to the job description and start shaping the job description to the person whom God has called. Here are some reasons why the job description of the pastor must change based on the person called to fill the role.
No one can do everything
First Corinthians 12:14 says, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” Each pastor will have spiritual gifts necessary for his calling from God. However, no pastor will have everything that their church wants. Not even Jesus could satisfy everyone, nor did he try. He only did what the Father was calling him to do. Our pastors don’t exist to serve our whims. They are called and gifted by God. Shouldn’t we let God’s calling and gifting of our pastor determine how they use their time?
There are different kinds of pastors
I know several pastors who are great shepherds and preachers but they won’t do counseling. I also know several pastors who are great counselors but are not good administrators. The gifts, talents, experience, and knowledge of your pastor will shape him into a unique gift to your church. He may be more of a shepherd or teacher or preacher or administrator. Those strengths should characterize his ministry. However, no pastor (or at least very few) can do all of these things well. Don’t evaluate your pastor by what he naturally does poorly. That’s not fair.
The Bible focuses on character
The New Testament passages that list qualifications for ministry focus on the character of the pastor (see 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1). Too often the church focuses on the skills of the pastor to the neglect of his character. I’ve been through several interviews with churches where every question was about my skills in ministry but that lacked even one question about my character. That seems backward, but it’s all too common. The end result is that the interview process for a pastor doesn’t look much different than the process for a corporate executive.
A better fit means a more joyful pastor (and congregation)
When the pastor’s job description is built around (1) the biblical qualifications for ministry, (2) how the Bible describes the shared ministry of the Elders, and (3) the pastor’s own spiritual gifts, natural talents, and experience, then he will easily thrive in that role. Instead of trying to balance God’s call with the church’s desire, he will be free to minister as God has made him. This freedom can provide a sense of fulfillment in his work. Research shows that a sense of fulfillment is what causes people to stay in their jobs the longest.
Structuring the pastor’s role around how God has made him will give him great joy. He will no longer feel like he is serving two masters – God and the church. Ironically, when the pastor is free to serve God alone, he serves the church better too. The congregation that wants to control their pastor is stepping out of the blessing God intends for the church.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning for that would be of no advantage to you.Hebrews 13:17
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