Pastor's Pastor: The fear of the pastor

Pastor's Pastor: The fear of the pastor

James A. Cress is the Secretary of the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Recently I asked a group of collegues to reflect on the Year of the Pastor by contemplating the question: What is the fear of the pastor? Their responses show "the hopes and fears of all the years."

• / wonder if I will leave a mark on this earth. I plan on doing God's will and then spend my time putting out fires. Have I made a difference?

• That my reasons for pastoring will fade and that my efforts will go to ward sustaining an institution more than a remnant movement.

That after I have preached to others I might become a castaway. It's tempting to become cynical, critical and hardened after many years.

• That I might lose my own family. Myriad demands on my time and attention make it is easy to justify spending all for the church leaving little for my family—all the while saying they are my first priority!

More new programs designed by people who haven't served in a pastorate anytime recently. The reality gap is huge!

• That my heart will become as hard as the tough skin I am developing out of necessity. Well-intentioned members can be cruel.

That finances will destroy my effectiveness. My theological confidence is firm. I have no fear that Christ will bring the church through. My congregation is prospering phenomenally. It seems the only people not prospering are my family, with all the financial challenges we face. Will the day ever come when one salary will support the pastoral family?

• That there is no one in the congregation for the pastor to lean on for sup port, understanding, healing.

I fear that the new members I bring into the church will be criticized rather than encouraged and watched rather than discipled.

• That we will hardly get roots down before being asked to move. We are almost afraid to make friends be cause we will have to leave them.

I fear discovery that I'm not the super "out of this world" pastor my members want. I want to experience success as a soul winner, but my batting average is not what I dream it should be.

• That some lack or inattention on my part will discourage someone in their Christian walk.

Fear of the world and its ways over taking the church. How can we best hold high standards and still meet people's needs in a loving, winning way. This is my challenge.

• Lack of respect for all the duties a pastor performs. That people will really believe the joke that pastors work only one day per week.

That the next workers' meeting will be as boring as the last one. How I wish for deep biblical themes.

• That honest and formal evaluation with tangible recognition for out standing performance will not come about and pastoral mediocrity will thus be encouraged.

If so little impact came during a year of emphasis on caring for pastors, imagine what it will revert to next year.

• That stresses on our families will increase dramatically. The pastor's family receives lip service, but only workaholic attitudes and time commitments seem to be recognized and rewarded.

That I will live and model a life of imbalance and that any of my family members—spouse or kids—will get turned off to God because Dad is involved in church work.

• That everyone thinks my wife is free for babysitting, errand running, and singing—and then still wonders why she has to work full time.

Negative, critical people with an agenda. Whether "liberal, conservative, historic or traditional," they all have one common trait—judging everything a pastor says or does from the perspective of their own agenda. They are the only ones right and they know it!

• Misappropriating my priorities and forgetting why I entered the ministry in the first place.

The upward mobility path still takes too many out of pastoring and conferences still look beyond their own pastoral team when prime churches need to be filled.

• Being caught in conflicting expectations between what the conference wants and what local leaders demand. It is difficult to lead. Funds for creative innovation are often lacking. Pastors are set-up for failure when high-performance is demanded and resources in the congregation are insufficient.

That I am not the spiritual leader my church needs. I want to be more than a good technician. I want to be a man of God.

• Being bogged down with programs so that there is little time to dig into the Word.

The fear of the pastor is many-sided. My best help comes on my knees as I commit my life to Jesus and relinquish to God what I cannot achieve. This is my fear-remover!

• That Jesus won't come in 1994.

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James A. Cress is the Secretary of the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

December 1993

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