I’m going to share with you what is probably keeping your pastor up at night. I can’t speak for every pastor but I’m confident there are at least some shared experiences that apply to most pastors. Issues like division in the church and people who can’t get along exist in every church. You can bet these five things are keeping your pastor up at night.
1) Pastors Can’t Sleep When People Don’t Love Each Other
The only way to grow spiritually is within the context of community. If we don’t integrate into a local church family, we won’t have the opportunity to bear one another’s burdens. The problem is that church involves a large group of imperfect people. And like any real family, the collection of imperfect people brings disagreements, misunderstandings and immaturity issues. It’s sort of a catch 22. We can’t grow spiritually until we integrate into a community that forces us to grow spiritually.
I often wonder how many times Jesus had to remind the disciples to “love one another” (John 13:34). It’s a simple command, but very hard to live out. Pastors know when people in the church are not getting along and it keeps them up at night. You can support your pastor by encouraging people in the church to forgive each other and work things out.
2) Pastors Can’t Sleep When People Aren’t Aligned With the Vision
There’s a huge difference between mission and vision in the local church. The mission of the church never changes because it comes from the Lord Jesus Himself: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). These words represent the reason every local church on the planet should exist.
The church vision, on the other hand, is different from the mission because it comes from church leaders (not God) and should change over time. The vision represents elements such as music styles, how kid’s church will function and the carpet color in the worship center. Think of the mission as the engine that drives the church and the vision as the steering wheel that directs the church. It’s for this reason churches are not all the same (thank God for that)!
It’s important to find a local church you can fully support, even if you don’t agree with every little detail. When people (especially staff and volunteers) are not aligned with the vision it keeps pastors up at night. You can support your pastor by learning the vision and modeling it throughout the church.
3) Pastors Can’t Sleep When They Are Constantly Criticized
Pastors live inside a fishbowl that brings lots of criticism. It’s part of the calling and every leader should be subject to critique. However, there are times when a “spirit of criticism” sweeps through certain pockets of the local church. We don’t want to be among those who bite the hand trying to feed the people. The author of Hebrews said it this way, “To this end, allow them (spiritual leaders) to lead with joy and not with grief, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).
It’s easy to find things wrong with your leader. Just keep in mind that being a source of joy (not grief) will ultimately benefit your spiritual walk. You can support your pastor by speaking up when others engage in unnecessary criticism.
4) Pastors Can’t Sleep When People Are Spiritually Apathetic
The church is the most exciting living organism on the planet. It’s the Body of Christ designed to work in harmony to make disciples across the earth. There’s nothing better than when the people are fully engaged. Together we can change the world, which is why spiritual apathy is so frustrating to pastors. We want people to grow spiritually and demonstrate genuine faith, excitement and zeal for what God is doing.
It’s not the pastor’s job to make people grow spiritually. Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own attitude and commitment to the things of God. You can support your pastor by taking responsibility for your own personal growth and showing up to worship God.
5) Pastors Can’t Sleep When There’s Division in the Church
We all know people who think they know better than everybody else. They walk around the church with a haughty spirit and ruin the culture. Such people assume their opinions and presence is more significant than other people in the community. It only takes one person to compromise church unity and such people must be dealt with swiftly. Please don’t be that person in your church, it’s definitely keeping your pastor up at night.
The only remedy for division in the church is through true humility. Paul said, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself” (Philippians 2:3). You can support your pastor by assuming others in the church are more important than you.