Jesus Wasn't a Good Pastor

Pastors,

You're dealing with an insane amount of pressure. I don't how big your church is: whether it's the kind that needs to maintain a certain level of numerical growth to be considered healthy, or it's the kind where you stopped measuring growth and just want to maintain a heartbeat. Either way: I know you're facing pressure.

The word pastor for many of you is not just what people call you; it's the title of a job description that includes an impossible list of expectations that is rarely shortened but frequently lengthened. Not only are you pastor, you are apostle, teacher, preacher, prophet, and evangelist, but most of you are also juggling the additional roles of chaplain, hospice worker, coach, financial guru, counselor, talk show host, and prototype of the human race.

Unfortunately, most of the pressures of this type come from outside structures, and require radical decisions to alleviate them...

But one of the pressures you face is one you yourself can control. It doesn't come from boards, denominations, or the legacy of a church history. Swirling through the weight of the usual expectations is a pressure many of you haven't identified, and because it exists silently within you, pushing and squeezing anonymously, you haven't realized its toll on your soul.

You're trying to identify with Jesus as a fellow pastor.

But Jesus isn't a pastor, never was. Prophet and Priest, yes. But not pastor.

Jesus never dealt with what you're dealing with. It's true. Sure, Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are...having to deal with pride, anger, greed, lust, selfishness, etc. And Jesus lived a human life among us just as we live a human life, but it was lived according to His own unique calling. His calling and your calling lead to two different lives.

Jesus didn't have a spouse or kids. There was no sharing of the bed and thermostat with another human and there were no soccer games to attend or braces to buy. And for you single pastors, He only had to endure public scrutiny of His non-existent love life for a measly three years...not the entirety of his life span. 

He didn't have a home, a car, or student loans. There was no lawn to mow, no health insurance plan to figure out, and no career trajectory hampered by a narrow resumé. 

He openly ditched his extended family responsibilities other than a brief charge to his best friend at His death. 

He didn't lead a specific congregation in a specific place. Although eventually His preaching content cost Him his life, Jesus didn't stay put with the same people and deal with the fall out of his weekly sermon points. He never had to navigate wave after wave of social justice issues, culture wars, or political cycles with the people paying His salary.

No board provided him feedback on his job performance, and no worship leader ever had to choose songs to fit his untitled sermons. (C'mon everybody, sing along..."Foxes have holes, birds have nests, hate your momma and all the rest!") 

He never had to rearrange the church calendar to accommodate the Christmas cantata, never had to find classroom space for "all those kids," and He most certainly never had to dress up as Himself for Vacation Bible School.

The only wedding we know He attended, He got to be the one bringing out the good wine, instead of being the guy people hid their wine from. And maybe we shouldn't talk about funerals...He showed up late to His best friend's wake and then instead of enduring the weeks of grief afterwards, decided to undo the death.

Let's just say it: Jesus wasn't a good pastor. He wasn't a good pastor because Jesus wasn't a pastor.  And you should stop trying to identify with Him as a pastor. You're doing things He never did, and He performed things you could never accomplish. He walked on water. You have to sit in the dunking booth to raise money for missions.

Release yourself from identifying with Jesus as a pastor, but let Jesus minister to you, the pastor. Let the Good Shepherd bring your soul to still waters and green pastures.

As pastor, God doesn't expect you to be a martyr, a savior, or a miracle worker. God doesn't expect you to be Jesus, God invites you to follow Jesus. Following Jesus means walking the humble path of service, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and manifesting the truths of the Sermon on the Mount. It means your love for Jesus translates into compassion for the sheep of your flock, feeding them and laying down your life for them in simple acts of love and devotion which will rarely look like a rugged cross on a hill but will frequently look like listening to the frustrations of a disgruntled human carrying painful emotional baggage. It means you're still human, and need vacations, Sabbaths, and hobbies. It means if you have a spouse and kids, your pastoral call starts with loving them well.

It also means when you're asked to preside at weddings and funerals, you do so clothed in Christ and abiding in Christ, but not in comparison to Christ. Being a pastor doesn't mean being a super hero version of Jesus. You'll gradually wither internally if the source of your religious activity springs from a Messiah complex. Instead, work on recognizing the Spirit of Jesus living in you, empowering you to serve out of peace, joy, and hope.

Jesus wasn't a good pastor, but He's an amazing priest, interceding on your behalf even now, imploring God to lavish you with grace in your unique role that He never served in, and whispering for you to lay down the yoke of false expectations and receive His rest for your soul.

Grace and peace to you,

Matt O.

P.S. By the way, you ain't Paul either. And that's pretty great, too.