One thing Bobby and I tell often people in our City Pres New Members class and in our resulting interviews with is, “This is probably the high point of our relationship. We’ll only disappoint you from here on out.” Most people at least chuckle. Some laugh. At least we get a wry smile.
But we say it because it’s true. We don’t try to disappoint people. We don’t mean to let people down. We not doing it on purpose. But we do. I do. And I hate it.
Pastoring a church is a strange thing. It’s an interesting combination of counseling, management, volunteer coordinating, event planning, speaking, recruitment, entrepreneurship, city relations and so much more.
In addition, so many people have been hurt by the church. So it seems they either have huge expectations or no expectations. Naturally, it’s fun to exceed their low expectations. We do this fairly often – we throw cool parties, bring in the ice cream truck, send flowers, have incredible music and try to do things well because we want to care for people. And we love to hear stories of when we succeed in that very purpose. People are surprised to find out their pastor cares for them, or wants to meet them or will remember their names.
But there are also a ton of unmet and oftentimes unexpressed expectations. People want church to be a perfectly loving community. They know it won’t but they still want it to be. They want something that transcends. They want more.
That’s not wrong. It’s right. It’s a good thing. It is supposed to be that way.
But we can’t do it. I forget names. I can’t initiate with everyone, and I lose track. I say the wrong thing, or I don’t say the right thing. I act selfishly. I run behind and show up late. I can’t meet at a certain time. I extend myself too far. I preach a lousy sermon. I spend too much or not enough.
It goes on and on. It was easier to manage when we were smaller and growing, but it’s harder as we grow and time passes.
I do want to change. I hate to disappoint people. I feel like I do so often, and I am sorry. I try to get things done but mess up all the time. It’s a big project. It’s important. I want to grow and learn as a person and as a pastor.
I’m not sure how to handle disappointing people. I suppose one of my strategies has been to try to dampen those expectations. But I know I also try to enflame them. I want people to think MORE of church – not less. I want people to believe more and expect more – not less. We have a ton more to do and we can’t sit and wait for things to happen.
I think I have to rest in Christ. I’ll have to ask for forgiveness for when I often fail. I need to think through helping people in new ways as our church gets bigger and more complicated in its relationships and history.
I know that Christ doesn’t disappoint. He’s not disappointed in me. There is more to come for our church, for my confidence in him can grow as he does the work instead of me relying on myself and my skills and abilities, which are forever proven lacking. As I work on being a better leader, I want to create an honest, forgiving culture where we can live out our calling in trust, fail each other, give and receive forgiveness and hope for more, more more.