What makes a good pastor.

posted Aug 6, 2018, 7:04 PM by Cameron Hubanks   [ updated Aug 6, 2018, 7:05 PM ]
Every one of you reading these words has an idea of what makes a good pastor. Your picture of the “good pastor” is a composite of pastors you had when you were a child and when you were older – of when you went through hard times and no one from the churchreached out to you and other times when your pastor turned out to be (literally!) a “Godsend” – someone who helped save your life!

Each of us instinctively knows what makes a “good pastor.” We can rarely put it into words – usually we don’t even think about it –but that image lingers powerfully, and without conscious thought we assess every new pastor that comes into our life by that powerful standard – whether good or bad – from the past.

That said, your own image of the “good pastor” is different from that of your friend who sits across from you at church – or who rarely attends worship, but still considers church to matter in some important way. In fact, your conception of this ideal pastor is probably different from that of your best friends, or your spouse, or your children or your parents.

We don’t usually talk about these images (though your search committee did and invited you to do some of that thinking with them!). Consequently, a not very surprising thing is certain to happen in the coming weeks and months: Some of you will gradually conclude that your new pastor is pretty good and others will harbor some disappointment. And we’ll only talk about it out loud a little bit - but these feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction will be real and will color how we think about church in the coming days, months and years.

I think it’s important to name this inevitable reality out loudHere’s why: I want to be a good and faithful pastor for you, but I already know that it will be impossible for me to fully satisfy every member of the church. Rather than make myself crazy trying to be your perfect pastor I will instead work hard to understand your desires and make reasonable efforts to faithfully be there for you. Ultimately, I can only be me. My gifts (God-given gifts, I believe) are significant, but they are not enough to meet all your needs and expectations. I know that and can live with that fact.

So.... instead of trying to be your perfect pastor, I will try to be a good and faithful pastor. I will do my best to teach the faith as bestas I am able. I won’t be shy from letting you know what I think and how I am convicted about spiritual and social matters of all sorts.But it’s not my job to make you think like m– it’s my job to invite and push and prod you to wonder what Jesus wants of you. Therewill be days I try to comfort you, and there will be days I want to make you uncomfortable. I hope you will understand that especially on the days I irritate you – I’m not doing so because I relish trouble – I’m doing so because the Gospel inevitably turns things upsidedown. If I bug you, you are free to let me know, but please understand that sometimes it might actually be my job to bug you!

If pastors are to be “shepherds” (and I think they are), then they are to gently nourish on some days, and to prod and provoke on others. I hope to do both, and I hope to do so precisely because I come to care deeply about you.

Thank you for calling me to be your pastor. It is an honor to serve here at Zwingli United Church of Christ! I intend to work hard to earn your trust and to help us all make Jesus a more central part of our living.

Blessings to each of you!

Rich Pleva, Pastor

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