Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You Want Me To Do What!

Pastors care deeply about the people in their congregations and seek to do their best to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of each person in the parish. However, when a congregation is unable to fully fund the pastor’s salary, the pastor may have to work a second job in addition to serving the church. In such situations, the pastor will have significantly less time to devote to offering pastoral care to their congregation. Pastors feel very bad when this happens, but there is very little they can do about it. Such situations become even more of an issue if church members please unreasonable demands on a pastor who works a second job in addition to the church. The added pressure of such unreasonable demands impacts the pastor negatively far more than most people realize. The following is a somewhat humorous “made up” conversation between a church member named Sister Exaggeration and her pastor. Read the conversation below and consider how realistic the church member’s expectations are.

NOTE: this is a made up scenario and any similarity to real life events are purely coincidental.

Member: Pastor, did you know that I am having some serious medical treatments tomorrow?

Pastor: No, Sister Exaggeration, I did not even know you were even sick.

Member: Yes, I am having my toe nail removed. It has been infected for nearly a week.

Pastor: Oh, I did not know. I am so sorry.

Member: Well, I wondered why you had not come by to see me, or send flowers, or bring a meal. Why I have been hurting all week long with no support from you or anyone else.

Pastor: I really am sorry. No one told me about your condition.

Member: Well, of course no one told you; we are not a gossiping church. But if you would visit each person in the church each week to check on them, then you would know about our needs.

Pastor: Sister Exaggeration, it is hard for me to visit when I am working down at the factory full time in addition to serving the church.

Member: I know. You always bring that up. I still think if you had more faith you would quit working at the factory and just trust God to provide for you.

Pastor: I know you feel that way, Sister Exaggeration; you have mentioned it many times.

Member: I just think the pastor ought to be totally devoted to God, and working at the factory keeps you from being as devoted as I think you ought to be.

Pastor: I know Sister Exaggeration, but with the church only paying me $75 a week, it is really hard to buy groceries for my family of 5, not to mention the rent and the utilities and gas for the car.

Member: If you were a real man of prayer, God would provide those things for you.

Pastor: God has provided them, through my job at the factory.

Member: Yes, but since you are working at the factory, you will not be able to come sit with me all day when I have my toe nail removed. And you did not have time to cut the grass for Mrs. Lazy last week when she went on vacation. And you did not have time to take a meal to Brother Fatz last month when he got the hiccups. And you never even bothered to show up to my second cousin’s step sister’s best friend’s funeral. It really hurt me to think that you did not have time to comfort me in such a time of personal loss.

Pastor: I know, Sister Exaggeration. I do not think I have ever met all your expectations. I just do the best I can with the time God gives me.

Member: Well, I just wish we had a real pastor. Maybe one day our church can grow and we will be able to hire a pastor that has time for his congregation.

Pastor: Sister Exaggeration, maybe someday you will be able to hire a real pastor who will have time for you. But in the meantime, you are stuck with me. I will try to do better and find time to come by tomorrow and visit you when you have your toe nail removed.

This is an excerpt from the book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway. The book contains six easy to use lessons to train lay people to assist their pastor in ministry.


  1. The Sister (and Brother) Exaggerations of this world need to be held, as Jesus taught, to the same standards of judgement with which they judge. Pastors facing such criticism might point out that they don't doubt that member's devotion to God because the member hasn't devoted his or her life to being a full-time pastor--and he deserves the same consideration! It also occurs to me that a church where such attitudes are common needs more teaching on vocation and the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers!


  3. Good morning Dr. Dorsett,
    While I'm not Bi-Vocational, I really have appreciated your blogs and articles on this subject. This morning's "imaginary" scenario with Sister Exaggeration was too close to home with some of the folks I deal with. It's good to be reminded that we're not alone with the demands people place on us even when we're "Full-Time" at the church.
    God Bless!

  4. Okay, Terry, I must give you a LOL (laughed out loud)! That story was so hillarious, becuase I have dealt with such situations, as, I'm sure, you have. I didn't handle it as patiently as your make-believe pastor did. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. I stopped visiting people for several years. This is what I have deacons for. If something is serious, or someone request a call. I am there. But routine visits are done by the deacons.