Some years ago, I had a long-term veteran pastor in a Doctor of Ministry class. In the midst of our class discussions, he made a statement I’ve never forgotten. I’ve taken his comments below and tried to add some insight for application today.
Here’s the statement from my student (who is now with the Lord): “Gentlemen, a big problem with many pastors is that they are pastoring three churches. They’re pastoring the church they never got over, the church where they currently serve, and the church they want to pastor. You can’t focus well when you’re pastoring three churches.”
- The church they never got over. Maybe that’s because they remember its glory days and want to go back there. They might, in fact, have erased some of the tough days there and magnified only the good days – but still they wonder if church will ever be so good again. On the other hand, they may have been so wounded in that church that they’ve never moved beyond that pain. They now just assume that a church will eventually turn on them.
- The church where they currently are. That’s the congregation that pays them, and they serve among them every day. They may even do that well when they’re focused and excited. Or, their struggles in this church might be painful—so painful they wonder if they can stay where they are.
- The church where they want to be. Somewhere, the grass is surely greener. Or, the platform is more significant, and the opportunities to become better “known” would be more. More resources and more people would only help a pastor extend his ministry—and why would we not want to dream about such possibilities?
I think my friend was right. It’s tough to stay focused today as a church leader when you’re also thinking a lot about yesterday and tomorrow. What are your thoughts? Are you pastoring more than one church in your mind?