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Things The Pastor Cannot Do

Joe McKeever 10-31-08
Ed was emphasizing to his church leadership why having a pastor's residence
net door to the church is not necessarily the !est thing" #hey had always
en$oyed the luury o% having the minister on the premises& they told him and
would hate to relin'uish that !lessing" #hat's why& when the hurricane destroyed
the pastorium and the congregation had to ma(e a decision a!out re!uilding&
)astor Ed thought this would !e a good time to move the pastor's residence"
*+et me as( you something&* Ed said to the %ive men and women seated around
the ta!le" *,ow many o% you have ever ta(en a vacation and stayed at home-*
Every hand went up"
*.ell&* he said& *that's something a pastor can never do" /% he's at home& and
everyone in town can see he's at home& he's always on call"*
#he good %ol( seated at the ta!le admitted they had never thought o% that !e%ore"
*0nd it's not $ust the church&* Ed emphasized" *#he community comes (noc(ing&
too" 0nd / love that -- don't get me wrong" /t's $ust that sometimes it gets
wearisome"*
0s his director o% missions& / complimented )astor Ed on eplaining that to them"
.hen lay leaders understand the uni'ueness o% the pastor's !urdens& o%ten they
can !e counted on to do the right thing and help to ease them"
0s a result o% hearing )astor Ed's account o% this meeting& / !egan to re%lect on
other things a pastor cannot do as a result o% his uni'ue position in the church
and community& things *normal* people do without a thought"
0 pastor cannot decide to s(ip a 1unday and ta(e his %amily to the !each" 2ther
people do it as a matter o% routine"
+ast .ednesday night a%ter prayer meeting and choir practice& my son and his
wi%e too( their three children and drove %our hours to the !each& arriving at 1 a"m"
#hey stayed until chec(out time %rom the condo on 1unday morning and got
home in the middle o% the a%ternoon" #hey are %aith%ul church mem!ers& good
givers& and steady 1unday 1chool wor(ers& so this represents nothing in the
world ecept the need %or a %ew days o% rest"
3ut it's a luury denied to a pastor& almost always"
#he only way a minister can pull up at the last minute and head to the !each and
miss 1unday services is !y using valua!le 4and usually scarce5 vacation time" 6o
matter how hard he wor(s during the wee(& to the congregation 1unday is his
primary wor( day and he is %ully epected to !e there and to do his !est wor("
0nd %ran(ly& !ecause o% the call o% 7od upon his li%e& the pastor would not have it
any other way" 2nly& he would li(e the congregation to appreciate that %act"
0 pastor can't allow himsel% a !rea( %rom reading the 3i!le& tithing his income&
and attending church" .hether we call this interlude a time o% !ac(sliding or a
little needed rest& the one person in the church %or whom this is %or!idden is the
man in the pulpit" ,e must spend time in the .ord each day and !ring in well-
prepared sermons each 1unday" /t is epected he will set the eample %or the
congregation in all matters o% the 8hristian li%e& %rom witnessing to the
unchurched to tithing his income to reading the 3i!le each day to loving the
unlovely wherever he %inds them"
0 pastor can't pic( and choose the people he will greet and spend time with"
Everyone owns stoc( in him and can pic( up the phone and as( %or a portion o%
his time"
Even though he might li(e to& most pastors cannot choose a !est %riend or two in
the congregation& !elieving that it's not a healthy thing %or the rest o% the
mem!ers to o!serve" 1o& either they end up with no close personal %riends& or
their !est %riends !ecome pastors %rom other towns or mem!ers %rom churches
they previously served"
0 pastor cannot tell a church mem!er o%%& or& as my mother used to say& *he
cannot !less him out"* ,e is epected to maintain his 8hristian control and
!ehavior at all times" ,e loves the unlovely and controls the %leshly impulse to
respond to un(indness with harshness" ,e returns good %or evil and love %or hate"
#here is so much pastors cannot do which *normal* church mem!ers do with
hardly a thought" 3ut& they wouldn't have it any other way"
0%ter all& there are %ar more wonder%ul things a pastor can do which most people
in the congregation do not have the %reedom to do"
9nless he is !i-vocational& a pastor can devote all his time to the service o% the
+ord" )art o% his actual duties is sitting at his des( reading the .ord o% 7od and
studying his !oo(s or driving across town and calling on the sweet old people in
the retirement home" Just thin( -- he gets paid %or that:
#he %irst time / was a!le to 'uit my outside $o! and receive a %ull paychec( %rom
my church& / %elt almost guilty over the $oy / was eperiencing %rom getting paid to
do what / loved !est"
0 pastor is given a great honor !y the +ord and the church that calls him as its
shepherd" #rue& there are restrictions upon his !ehavior and some limitations
upon his %reedom& !ut in almost every case he wouldn't have it any other way"
)astor Ed's church is still trying to decide where to locate the pastor's residence"
/% they as(ed me& /'d tell them to give him enough money to purchase his own
home so he can !uild e'uity and eventually own it" Many a pastor has come to
retirement time and %ound himsel% without a home o% his own to go to" #hat
happens to laypeople also& /'m con%ident& !ut it's not recommended %or anyone"