I continually warn my elders that a train wreck is coming. Sure, everything in the Church is going well right now, but it won’t last. Someone is going to get upset. They always do. It has happened in every ministry I have led.
The situation is usually the same. Someone is unhappy because they felt like they were ignored or marginalized or even mistreated. It is almost always the same story, they felt like I didn’t care about them in some way.
Upon careful investigation, I usually discover that people thought I would pick up on their needs on my own. I am here today to tell you that I don’t. I believe that this is true for most pastors that I know. I have a lot of interactions every day of the week and especially on Sunday. As a result, I will not pick up your subtle phrases or implied information. I do not get hints and innuendo.
I like to think it is because I am busy on the weekend and I am distracted, but honestly, I know sometimes I am just clueless. Whatever the reason, do not expect me to read your mind or pick up on anything that is not directly stated.
On behalf of pastors everywhere, let me say it this way.
1. If you want a visit, just say.
Seriously. If you want to talk to me or ask me questions or are just feeling lonely. Ask me to visit. I have never turned anyone down.
2. If you want prayer, just ask.
Tell me what you want me to pray for, and I will do it. I will usually inform you that I will pray for it for a period of time. Something like, “Yes I will pray for the situation every day this next week.” Currently, I have three marriages I am praying for until they are healed, just because people asked me too.
3. If you have a problem, just tell.
If I have done something to offend you in some way, then be direct and tell me the problem. Don’t talk about it with other Church members and make guesses at my motives. Tell me the truth, and I bet you will be surprised at the answer.
4. If you are hurt, just share.
If someone or something has hurt you, don’t expect me to know. Tell me, and we can try to get to the heart of matter. I may not have heard about your family member who passed. I may not know about what happened in your small group. I may not know anything. Tell me, and I can do my best to help.
5. If you need help, just be honest.
This is a huge one for me. Don’t hint around about tight finances or falling behind. Just ask if the Church can help you financially in some way. I guarantee I will not read your open-ended statements as a plea for help.
No pastor can read your mind. We do not have as much information as you think we do. The best way to communicate with us is direct. It is just that simple.
I want to avoid any conflict in the future, and most people in the Church want the same thing. The only way it is going to happen is if we speak openly and honestly with each other, even the pastor.