Growing up, I had such great admiration for pastors. Though I mostly admired their priestly garments, what they symbolized in people’s lives fascinated me more. They were the most important people in the church; answering all the questions, offering advice, praying for various problems and solving problems. A pastor could not be any less than these – he could only be more. If I were to compare my childhood impression of a pastor to anything, I would say a pastor is a superman.
Many of us, just like me when I was much younger, still have this superman impression of our pastors. To us, they are the “do-all-be-all” as far as life is concerned. We expect them to be everything we want them to be and do everything we expect them to do. Yes, the pastor is a very important personality in the life of his church members. His/Her significance cannot be overstated. However, our expectations of them have been inflated.
I came to this realization when I started holding leadership positions in church groups and Christian fellowships. It was very surprising, and to some extent disappointing, what people expected of me as their leader. The church members were not solely responsible for having these expectations as some of the hopes were fueled by how I (the pastor/leader) postured myself. These unrealistic expectations were harmful to me (the leader) and the members. I burned out trying to keep up with their expectations and they were increasingly disappointed because I could not meet their standards.
As I thought about all these things, I came up with a list of things the pastor cannot do his members. I will focus on just five of them and hope that these will help church members see their pastors for who they are and what they can get from them.
- Your Pastor Cannot Teach You Everything You Must Know
Your pastor is not the repository of all knowledge. He does not know everything on the surface of the earth so do not expect him teach you everything you must know. As a matter of fact, he can only teach you what he knows – what he also has learnt from other people or by himself. Do not let your understanding of life and living it only depend on what your pastor says. Do not let your stance on matters of life and doctrine only be what your pastor’s stance is. Commit yourself to acquiring knowledge, read more to confirm or disprove what your pastors says and teaches. You are responsible for what you know – take charge of your knowledge base.
- Your Pastor Cannot Be Your Perfect Model
Your pastor can be your model but he cannot be perfect. Christ is the only perfect model. There is so much you can get from your pastor in terms of mentoring. However, know that your pastor is a human being just like you. He has weaknesses and he is susceptible to mistakes. Do not be caught in your admiration for him to think that he does not have flaws. Do not idolize your pastor such that at the least mistake he makes your disappointment is over the roof.
- Your Pastor Cannot Change You
Your pastor is responsible for helping you become the best of who you are. Note the keyword here is ‘help’ – that’s as much as he can do. He cannot literally turn your life round and make you a better person. He can teach you how to be a good person, he can pray for you and ask God to transform you but your pastor cannot do the changing. It is the responsibility of God the Holy Spirit to make your change possible and your part is to subject yourself to His will and discipline. So the next time you go to your pastor and tell him you want to change, have at the back of your mind that he is limited in what he can do to help you.
- Your Pastor Cannot Fix All Your Problems
Your pastor is blessed with great potentials and gifts. You might have seen him do mind-blowing stuff and that has given you hope in him. If your pastor will be sincere to you, you will know that it not by his strength that he did the things you so admire him for. Yes, he has solved some problems but he is not omnipotent – he cannot fix everything. Again, if your pastor will be sincere to you, you will know that he who you esteem for being an Olivia Pope has problems of himself that needs fixing. God is the only person that is omnipotent. Do not mistake your pastor for Him.
- Your Pastor Cannot Guarantee You Eternal Life
To think that following a particular pastor is a guarantee for eternal life is the most ludicrous of all the expectations church members have of their pastors. On a pastor’s list of impossibles, this is a topper. Your pastor can only show you the way to eternal life i.e. Jesus Christ. He is not the Christ. He can introduce you to the teaching of the Christ and urge you to follow them. He whom you think is a way is also following after the way. Instead of following your pastor, follow Jesus – the way.