I recently heard a pastor being described with what was one of the strangest things you can say about a pastor. And the same phrase came from several people. I am not bashing the guy. He’s got a thriving ministry and is an excellent speaker. These people describing him were big fans, anyways. I just thought the way he was described was rather... unusual.
He’s not a people person.
He’s not a people person?!
About the third time I heard it, whoever told me elaborated on it a bit. He doesn’t really do the “people” stuff. He is sort of detached from the people. All he really does is speak.
I don’t really know the guy, and I don’t know if any of this is true. But here is what I do know: I never want anyone to describe me that way.
Many pastors in our day seem to care about the polished sermons, popularity, entertaining people, or being revered. But Biblically, there is one thing the pastor should care about more than just about anything: the church, that is, the people. We see this in the heart of Paul throughout our 1 Thessalonians study. Thankful for you, praying for you, love you like a mother, give ourselves for you, love you like a father, couldn’t wait to see you again, you are our crown of boasting, we feel so alive knowing that you are standing strong... (See chapter 1:3-4, 2:7-12, 17, 19, 3:5-10.) You can’t miss the fact that Paul as Pastor loved the Lord, loved the Gospel... and loved the church.
Not just in 1 Thessalonians, either. Look at 2 Corinthians 11:28-29: And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
This comes on the tail end of Paul describing how he has been shipwrecked, imprisoned, and beaten. And he is saying, “That stuff is the least of my worries! My concern is for the church!”
One chapter later in 2 Corinthians 12:15, he says, I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. Notice Paul isn’t complaining about OT (overtime, not Old Testament) or difficult people or not getting his day off. He was glad to pour himself out, to work to exhaustion – for the sake of their souls. That’s the heart of a legit pastor.
Let’s get real. Sermons may flop. Potlucks may be a let down. The Christmas service may not have been to your liking last year. But if you are looking for real criteria to properly evaluate your pastor, here is a great place to start: Does he love his people?