Dealing with frustration I have always taught this is just unmet expectation. It happens in marriages, it happens in friendships, on the job and yes, it happens to pastors. Unmet expectation from the pastor and pastor to the congregation can go both ways. People look at the pastor and expect him to fit in the mold in which they have created or want their pastor to be, do and look like. Everyone has a different mold so the pastor many times have to figure out which mold he should hop in today to please the sheep that is pulling on him at that moment. They like it when they can call and say, “Go do this, go pray for this person, visit this person, have lunch with this person, call this one and the list goes on and on. Many times it comes across as if God has told them what to tell the pastor instead of asking the pastor, it is more like a hireling. “I pay my tithes, therefore I can tell you what you are supposed to do” type attitude, when the people who make such demands rarely pay their tithes or give in money or time to the vision of the pastor. “I want this!” a child can throw a temper tantrum and so can a sheep with an inward focus with their own agenda and their own vision of what they think the church should look like. With this being true they make statements such as ‘that is what pastors are supposed to do’. The pastor when duty calls, cannot have family time or rest but wrestles with the fact of putting his sheep first instead of his family. When the pastor does have family time, he may feel guilty because he hears the sheep baas. This is led to many pastors leaving the ministry because of the unhealthy demands that is placed upon him. I have spoken to several ex pastors and the one thing they talk about is how they gave all they had to the people in time, preaching pouring their soul out to the congregation and all they got from it was stab wounds in the back and may deal with forgiveness or failure as they try to recover.
This culture has taught preachers to be strong in Word to kick people with it, visit people, live close to the poverty level to show your humbleness and that you should do what the people expects. Notice I said ‘expects’. When the pastor refuses or has excuses for the sheep demands, it leads to frustration in the fold. When God calls the one in the five fold ministry as of pastor it is he who leads not the people. The over abuse of sheep whipping the pastor into their mold continues to happen today. If the sheep would trust God to lead their pastor and grasp the vision of their pastor, work in unity then the vision to reach the lost would play out. Human beings are funny though…we all have to work together with different personalities, upbringings and attitudes.
However, this same shoe can also fit on the pastor looking at his people and molding them the same way. The abuse of pastors demanding the sheep to shape up or ship out is also a culture. There is only so much a sheep can do or handle. Sheep have families too and a life with a family. It is about control both ways. It is focusing inward instead of outward. Jesus cries at this type of manipulation. When the focus has changed to inward people start pointing their fingers and starve for control. Even the working leader sheep can be judgmental within the flock demanding more from the fellow sheep. Focusing inward demands attention to getting needs met instead of having the vision of the Great Commandment or the Great Commission. A person can even use the Word getting the demands met from their perspective.
The bottom line is…. you can’t control people, you only can control yourself. You can give out, give out, preach your heart out, give some more of your time, try to fit in the molds of all your sheep, give some more time and what do you get for it? Heartache, people leave the church, sheep are frustrated and start biting other sheep. At times a pastor feels frustrated too because now he feels responsible in some way. It is a calling that many would never adhere to because of the mental stress it plays. It makes a pastor just want to hop on the bus and look for another pasture of sheep, nice ones at that. I have to remind my husband daily that we cannot control people’s mind, attitude or what they do and also it is not our fault if they play out immature reactions of trying to bite each other or us.
What is the solution to all this? As a pastor we give because we are called. We answer to God not man. We keep a balance in the midst of the demands. We keep our focus on what God wants from us and what is pleasing to God. We constantly cast our vision to reach out to the lost and grow the sheep to maturity. We may get hurt in the battle and we will have scars, however don’t focus on the pull but focus on Jesus and His ways. When we answered the call, we didn’t step into the demands of the sheep but we stepped into Jesus’ shoes. When we answered the call of Pastor, we knew what we were facing and God always equips those who are called with endurance and with wisdom. We are not called to judge, condemn or control but to love, live and lead.