Kindergarten For Church Pastors
by David J. Stewart | August 2021
1st Peter 3:8, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:” 1st John 3:17, “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
I have met umpteen pastors during my lifetime. I love preachers! I have never met a pastor that I didn't hold in high regard in some way or another. I love pastors! I understand that there are no perfect pastors. I heard a great sermon today by Pastor Jack Hyles titled: “Familiarity Breeds Contempt.” Pastor Hyles explains that humans cannot be too close without having conflict. Albeit, there are some things that every pastor should do if he is a good pastor:
First, pastors ought to pray with hurting people...
Pastors ought to pray with people who are having a hard time. It discourages me when I meet a pastor who doesn't bother to offer to pray with me, after I tell him about all the problems in my life. Really, that is very bad! I recently told a local pastor that I moved 9,000 from Guam to Pensacola, Florida. I told him that I am divorced and lonely. I told him that I suffer from chronic neck pain and that my doctor reduced my prescription pain medications by more than half. I told him that I am living out of a suitcase in a hotel and am having a rough time. Yet, not once in the multiple times that I met and contacted him, did he bother to offer to pray with or for me! Something is wrong.
Second, every pastor ought to express sympathy for hurting people...
When someone tells you as a pastor that they are suffering or having a hard time, you should realize that they are reaching out to you! I mean, what does it take for someone to get a pastor's attention that they need to be loved? I even told the local pastor that hurting people just want to be loved, giving him a hint, yet he still refused to express even the least of sympathy for my pain, loss and suffering. That is a really bad pastor! I say that kindly. Many pastors need to go back to pastor's kindergarten and learn the basics all over again. I don't care how big your church is, or how many people say nice things about you, you are only as good a pastor as how you treat the least among you. I can only speak for myself and what I see. The pastor in question gets a very low score on my review of him as a pastor, although in hold him in high regard for his other excellent qualities as an orator, his accuracy on the Gospel and likable personality. I respect him because he is the pastor, but that doesn't mean that I cannot have my own opinion of him. Something is wrong.
Third, every pastor needs to have empathy for hurting people...
Empathy is putting yourself in the other guy's shoes! Most pastors have no clue what it feels like to be a divorced person. They have never experienced the betrayal, loss of intimacy and companionship, shame, financial calamity, hardship and heartache, that a divorce brings. Most pastors, including the one in question, haven't a clue why a person would feel like garbage in a church that shuns them. I was told that divorced people often leave or avoid coming to the particular church I was attending in Pensacola. That made me feel awkward and unwanted. So I contacted the pastor to see if I was welcomed. Ten days later he still hadn't responded to me. I didn't want to jump to any conclusions, so I went to him directly. I was cut to the heart when he shirked me off and evaded my questions, making me feel even more awkward and unwelcome. You see, he has no idea what it feels like to lose everything near and dear.
At a minimum he should have had some empathy, at least trying to put himself in my shoes to understand. Instead, he became defensive and avoided me. That is not the way to handle a situation. People just want to be loved. So my third lesson for pastors in kindergarten is to have empathy for hurting and divorced people, because they desperately need it. But by the grace of God you would be divorced too!
Fourth, every pastor should let a hurting person know that you care...
Shame on any pastor who remains silent when someone just told you about all the hardships and pain in their life. Silence is cowardly! Sometimes hurting people just want to know that someone cares about them. If church pastors don't do it, then prey tell me who will? The lost and ungodly world certainly won't do it? If we don't pray for each other, no one will! So my fourth lesson for pastors in kindergarten is to always let hurting people who come to you know that YOU CARE! If you don't care, then just don't say anything and the person will know by your silence that you don't give a damn! Something is wrong. I hope one day to meet a pastor who genuinely wants to be my friend. I would have hoped that the pastor in question would have invited to show me around the church, or have lunch with me. If he's too busy to eat lunch with a new stranger in the church, he's too busy!
Fifth, every pastor should let a hurting person know that God loves them...
It is the universal truth that God is love, but you'd be surprised how many people sincerely think God doesn't really love them! I have received countless emails through the years from hurting people who think they are too sinful for God to love or even save them. It is always my privilege to inform them that God unconditionally loves them, not because of who we they are but because of Who God is! God loves every human being because of Who God is, not because of who we are as guilty sinners. Every hurting person needs to be reminded that God loves them. Something is wrong with a pastor who fails to tell a hurting person that God still loves them. The ministry is all about dealing with people, yet pastors fail so utterly at this important task.
Sixth, every pastor should let a hurting person know that they Are welcome at church...
As a divorced man I deal with lots of guilt. I tend to feel like everything is my fault, because I am a sweet and tenderhearted man. It doesn't help when pastors make me feel like garbage by evading me, ignoring my questions and brushing me off. What a pastor ought to do is remind me that God loves me and their church welcomes me! I shouldn't have to beg, plead and express my frustration to get a pastor to welcome me! That is so terrible that any pastor would make a mountain out of a kindergarten issue of welcoming a hurting person, like me, into a church with God's unconditional love. People just want to be loved.
Seventh, pastors ought to focus on hurting people and not become defensive...
It is easy to label people and become selfish as a pastor, failing to look beyond a hurting person's faults to see their need for love. When I told the local pastor in question that he made me feel like “garbage,” he zoomed in to focus on what I said, rather than try to realize how he made me feel like garbage, by failing to do the six aforementioned godly things. Of course I felt like garbage after he ignored me, evaded my questions, didn't offer to pray with me, didn't express the least sympathy for my suffering and pain, and blatantly didn't care at all! Who wouldn't feel like a piece of garbage? Yet he became defensive instead of repent of his poor behavior. Pastors ought to be humble and look beyond people's hurt feelings to see their need for someone to simple care. Tragically, most pastors don't care, not one bit. Something is very wrong with their walk with God.
God knows that I have prayed for the pastor in question, even thought he didn't care enough to tell me that he cares, or that he is praying for me, or that he is sorry for my hardships and suffering in life. I am not mentioning the local pastor's name in question to be kind. Something is wrong spiritually with a pastor who doesn't have the capacity to love hurting people. My purpose in writing this article is to humbly teach pastors (and every believer to whom someone comes who is hurting) to esteem others better than our self as the Bible teaches, and try to understand hurting people rather than become defensive and shun them as the heathen world does. Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
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“Faith is the only righteous thing
that I can do!”
—Pastor Jack Hyles, a quote from the MP3 sermon titled: “God's Reversal Of Psalm 51”
1st Corinthians 16:24, “My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”
Souls Are Dying!
How Permanent Is Your Salvation?
(an excellent MP3 sermon by Pastor Hank Lindstrom, 1940-2008)
Mark 1:15, “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
of the child of God is that he loves everybody!”
(a quote from Pastor Jack Hyles' classic MP3 sermon, “FORGIVENESS”)
Mark 11:22, “And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.”
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