It is rare that a week goes by where, as a pastor, I have not failed, disappointed or offended someone within the church. I know because people feel the freedom and apparent need to tell me. That can be discouraging. In fact, I’ve observed that there is a corresponding corollary between the frequency of failing, disappointing and offending, and the level of discouragement on my part.
In those more sobering and clear-headed moments, I am able to evaluate what was said to me about those failures, disappointments and offenses against what Scripture says. On the one hand, it is a constant reminder of my sinfulness, weakness and inadequacy. On the other hand, it is a commentary on the nature of people’s expectations of me as a pastor. Merely evaluating the comments or criticisms over the past several weeks, it has been quite obvious that most of those failures, disappointments or offenses were not against God but against members’ expectations.
That got me thinking. What if I, as a pastor, took the liberty to assess church members based upon my personal expectations of what I want from them? Granted, all pastors do that to some degree; but I am not talking about all pastors. I‘m talking about what I want! I am talking about taking the same liberty that so many church members (and deacons and elders) do: judge others within the local church according to their own personal standards.
So, allow me to expose my selfish desires for what I want, expect, demand(?) of all church members within any church in which I serve. Here’s the shortlist:
1. For every member and regular attendee to be at every event I am at.
2. To be faithful to every Bible study or class I teach.
3. To be early to Bible study, Sunday school and worship.
4. To be attentive to everything I say and teach.
5. To learn more from me than from any other teacher or pastor.
6.To give undivided attention to every sermon I preach (never be bored, never fall asleep, never miss a sermon).
7. To never compare me with any other pastor or preacher, unless it’s in a positive way.
8. To idolize me more than all of their current idols and superpreachers.
9. To have each person or family invite me and my family for supper at least once a month.
10. To do what I ask them to do and go where I ask them to go.
11. To anticipate in advance when I will get sick or enter the hospital, and attend to me accordingly.
12. To always pray for me.
13. To adore my wife.
14. To think my children are perfect and wonderful.
15. To never correct me, scold me, rebuke me or say anything negative to me.
16. To read every article, blog or book I write, and like them.
17. To speak glowingly to everyone they know about how wonderful I am.
18. To bring people to my church every week in order to make the church grow in a way that will break all records (so that I too can be featured in Christian magazines and go on speaking tours).
19. To not expect me to live up to what the Bible says a Christian should be.
20. And certainly not expect me to live up to what the Bible says a pastor should be and do (that’s just too unreasonable).
21. To always be available when I call.
22. To always be home when I come to your house.
23. To like the same personal tastes and preferences I like.
24. To enjoy the same games and sports as I.
25. To like the same music that I do, especially in church services and events.
26. To dress according to my preferences and standards.
27. To always be pleasant and kind to me.
28. To tell me how much you like what I do or say (I would be angry at you if you don’t).
29. To never have any expectations of me (such as having to be at every class, Bible study, church activities, or worship service because I do have other things I want to do, you know?)
30. To visit with me when I feel like you need to (and you should have the foresight and intuition to know when that is).
31. To always send me birthday cards (gifts would be awesome).
32. To read the same books, magazines and journals that I do so we can discuss them at my pleasure.
33. To make sure everyone else in the church is doing what they need to do in order to make me happy. If they don’t, then I will threaten to leave.
34. To fulfill this list and anything else I can think of.
35. And never to think I‘m ever being selfish expecting these things!
Because, as we know, church is about my kingdom coming and my will being done; for mine is the kingdom and the power, and I want the glory, forever and ever…