Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Interesting Perspective

This week we had a long staff meeting, but a good one. I don't like long meetings but when your staff is busting a gut, you cannot help but keep it going. It was a meeting where we laughed and laughed and laughed and there is something healthy when a staff can come together and laugh. I believe that our staff is GREAT! Last week, I shared with them a post I found entitled "Becoming Friends with Your Pastor" Although there are things on this list that we (the staff in general) may not agree with, we are interested in hearing your opinions on this. It is written by Craig Groeschel, a pastor of a mega church out east.

Becoming Friends With Your Pastor

If you want to become friends with your pastor, here are some suggestions:
1. Don’t be pushy. Pushy people come across as needy. We minister to needy people all day. We crave friendships not more counseling appointments.
2. Don’t tell us “God told you” we’re going to be friends. He may have, but that doesn’t work on us. Tons of people have told us that before. Friendship for us needs to happen over time, not be born because of something God told you but not us.
3. Coming to a stranger’s house for dinner isn’t the high point of our lives. (You know a lot about us. We don’t know as much about you.) We work a lot of nights. Our kids are busy. Finding a babysitter is hard. Bringing our kids to your house often puts stress on us. A night at home is often more meaningful than a dinner at your house. (Some pastors will disagree with me and be very blessed by these dinners. Most aren’t.)
4. My wife doesn’t want to send our kids to your house just because you want to baby sit them. You are probably an incredible person, but we don’t know about your neighbors or your kids’ friends or your uncle that might come by. There are too many weird people for us to send our kids to your house without knowing more.
5. We are grateful for “gift cards.” Many pastors don’t have the financial margin to take their families out. Gift cards mean a lot.
6. We love talking to you about things besides church and the Bible. We have other interests like you.
7. We love your notes of appreciation. They mean more than you know. You have a way of sending them when we really need them. Thank you!
8. We love talking to the real you. Many people show us a spiritual front. Truthfully, we’d rather see your dark side than a fake spiritual one. Thank you for being yourself!
9. We are slow to open up. It is not because of you. We’ve been hurt many times by people who say the same things you are saying to us. Give us time.
10. If we can’t be close to you, it doesn’t mean we don’t truly love you. We only have room for a handful of very close friends. We simply don’t have the time or energy to be close to tons of people. Please don’t take it personally.
11. Please don’t try to use our kids to get to us. We love our kids and don’t want anyone to use them. Our kids also can’t go to every kid’s birthday party from the church.
12. If we ever say “no” to you, please understand that it is very hard for us. We want to serve you. We want to minister to you. We want you to like us. Sometimes, we simply can’t do everything. We hope you understand.
13. More than anything, we want to represent Christ to you. When we let you down (and we will), we pray you will show us grace.
14. We want you to know that we value your prayers more than you will ever know.
15. When you do become our close friend, you are an answer to prayer and a gift from God!
What are your thoughts? FYI some of the staff felt that some of these points are very harsh...


Manetheren said...

I'm fine with these points - nothing like being honest. For the last year or two I was able to be friends with the pastor of our old church, mostly due to being in a small men's study with him and two other guys. This was the first time that had ever happened to me. It was great getting to know a pastor in a different way; hearing joys, passions, and struggles that you wouldn't hear on a Sunday morning.

One point though - having a pastor take time to come and visit you is a great honour and commands a lot of respect. When I was growing up we lived on a farm about 35 miles from Winnipeg but we attended a large church in the city. A pastor we had in the late 80s took the time to come out and visit the four farm families in the congregation at harvest time. I remember my parents laughing because he did a round with my dad in the combine, but we greatly respected him for making the effort. I think what I'm trying to say is that even if it's difficult for a pastor to visit people at home, most of us really appreciate it when it happens.

BTW, please know that you're doing a great job and that we really appreciate your work.

Tammy said...

Awesome list. Being the wife of a pastor myself I can relate to almost every point.

At our last church the gift cards were a HUGE blessing and allowed us the opportunity to spend time together and nurture our marriage.

It's true, there are only a few people you can keep really close and it takes a lot of time to develop those relationships.

#3 is a little complicated for me. I love having people over and going over to a friends' home for a meal. It doesn't often happen that we're asked to find a sitter and I would have a hard time asking someone to do that. Sharing food, be it a cup of tea or a full meal, has significant meaning for me. If it is a stranger there is a little more pressure, but that usually fades once we're there and eating.

I think this and a lot of the points can be compared to someone holding significant political office.

novice said...

This list has really made me think. In a lot of ways, I understand where Pastor Groeschel is coming from - boundaries are important, and I'm sure more so the bigger the church. Everyone wants a piece of you, right?

It's just that I've never seen friendships as something that ought to be pursued because of a person's position. It feels kind of - I don't know, dirty? - to follow this how-to in order to create a relationship with someone.

Still, I've got good friends who are in ministry and one who has been (and largely still is in all but name) a pastor, and I feel for them on many of the points on this list! It would be wonderful to see people more sensitive to these things, but again a genuine friend ought to be without being told... hmm. I need to think on that some more.

Point 7 was a good reminder. For myself, when someone seems busy I tend to leave them alone - and that could probably be read a lot of different ways, so a pastor could easily not know they're being appreciated.

On that note - not that I think you were looking for it, but since it's come to mind - I really love that you maintain this blog. Whether I've commented on individual posts or not, I've found them all interesting and challenging - the book discussions in particular have been great! I know that a lot of effort has to go into keeping it the place that it is - thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

I think the list is fine, not harsh especially with the blurred hours of service required and the "community/family focus" of his job.

But 'friendship' aside, isn't some form of relationship part of the job between a shepherd and his sheep?

I'm sure there are a lot of sheep bleeting for attention. So perhaps we need a list of what a relationship with one's spiritual leader should look like.

In the business world a boss also spreads himself around and defines boundaries. He may be collegial with staff, but not become social buddies with them. He may intentionally keep himself at arms length in order to retain his position of authority. He has colleagues, employees and clients. Each expects something different and he serves them each in unique ways. He is an authority figure, leader, mentor, coach; is collegial and collaborative with colleagues; develops, empowers and serves others. So there are the responsibilities of his job, and there are friendships.

A pastor may need to remind himself of all his hats too and know when and where to draw lines.

I like to compare the pastoral role with that of a Prime Minister or President. There are some things they are required to do (like make appearances)from a professional standpoint; there are things they only share with am inner circle; and there are other times they just need to play golf with a buddy.

In any case, if a sheep is being burdensome or presumptuous, he may need to be educated about the pastor's "rules".

km said...

i think they are honest. they may sound a bit harsh but sometimes the truth can come across as that.
i know myself that i will likely not be friends with you, as my pastor, becasue we are in two very different places in life and that's okay, because i know that i am a part of the community and family of Soul and there are other people there to fill that role. you fulfill your "duty" to provide thought provoking and challenging life lessons. And you do make notice of me if you pass me in the halls.

but i fo think that anonymous made a interesting comment when he/she said: "I'm sure there are a lot of sheep bleeting for attention. So perhaps we need a list of what a relationship with one's spiritual leader should look like."
i think that would be useful but i guess it would be very dependant on the type of community which it involved.
Thanks for all you and the rest of the staff do. many of you have been a blessing in my life at one time or another, and i sure will continue to be.

SoulPastor said...

My response to the list. # 7 is the one that I love the most! That one is unreal in our own life. Our family reaps the benefit of those notes of encouragement.

I know for us personally when we first started Soul that there were 50 or so people that we connected regularly with. We spent a lot of time with these people. But as time went on and Soul started to grow we found that our time was limited and we could not give the time and attention that we used to be able to. I think this has been hard on some of our friends.

Someone commented earlier “'friendship' aside, isn't some form of relationship part of the job between a shepherd and his sheep?” To which I would agree. But it is interesting how people define relationship! For some it is a “hello” and for others it is “availability.” For me, I try not to force myself onto people, and I wait until they are comfortable with me. I guess there are boundaries in every job/ministry just here someone has taken the time to lay it out according to what they feel.