Pastors Are Human – 12 Heartfelt Things They Want You To Know

first attempt (2)

October is Pastor Appreciation Month and to kick it off, I decided to put together a compilation of heartfelt things pastors wish they could say to their congregations.  I gathered these insights from various blogs and websites, and added a few of my own observations.

Please hear me clearly. Most pastors love church members dearly. They truly care for those they serve.

But pastors are human.

And there are times they would like church members to know some things about them.

#1. We Take It Personally When You Leave The Church.

It’s just a straight up fact. We pastors eat, drink and sleep the local church and with that have a deep desire to see it thrive. Therefore when you leave to go to another church because…

  •      you’re bothered by a recent decision, but didn’t ask about it…
  •      the new church has a better kids ministry, youth group, worship team, building…
  •      your friends started going there…      

… it hits us personally.

For us it feels disloyal, shallow or consumer driven. People affirm that church is a family, thus when you up and leave because the church down the road has Slurpee dispensers, a fog machine or it’s just cooler, well it jams us pretty deep.

We wish people would make a decision about a church home and stick with it. Whatever happened to loyalty? These days, many families are content to float in and out of churches like spiritual butterflies, never setting down roots or establishing deep relationships. Churches should not be treated like Target and Wal-Mart, where you can hop in and out according to which one has the best deal going this week. If you want to stay, then stay and be a fully functioning member. If you want to leave, we hope you find a church home that’s a good fit. But please don’t come expecting to only receive and never contribute your time and resources.

#2. We Feel Pressure To Perform Week After Week.

The average TV show has a multimillion-dollar budget, a staff of writers and only airs 22 weeks out of the year; that’s what we feel we’re up against. Where the pressure is doubled comes from the previous point. We know there are churches nearby with a multimillion-dollar budget or a celebrity pastor who have the ability to do many more things at a much higher level. From this a sense of urgency is created in our mind to establish the same level of quality, option and excellence to meet the consumerist desires of culture.

Now if this were exclusively in the hopes of reaching new people this wouldn’t be so bad, but increasingly pastors feel the need to do this just to retain people who may be stuff struck by the “Bigger and Better” down the way.

#3. “We cannot show up at every place all of you would like us to be.”

We joke amongst ourselves that we wish we could be omnipresent. We love you church members, but it is physically impossible to be all the places you expect us to be. And, we always take into consideration the importance and value of the event, but sometimes we make mistakes, we forget, we oversleep, and yes, sometimes, we are just too exhausted.  We know our schedules and time constraints, and we have to do what’s best for us so that we can be the best for you.

#4. “Not all of our sermons will be ‘home runs.’”

We wish they were. But with the number of messages we have to prepare and preach in a year, we won’t always be the stellar preacher you want us to be. In fact, we won’t always be the stellar preachers we want to be. Please don’t criticize us or ask us to do something right before we preach. We put many hours into sermon preparation. We have prayed with intensity about the message. Please don’t complain about the worship center being too cold right before we preach

#5. “We struggle when the church numbers are down.”

We know we shouldn’t. We know we shouldn’t derive our worth based on attendance and offerings. But when attendance declines or offerings drop, we question our own leadership at the church.  The absence of growth in our churches can cascade into an internal turmoil by which we begin to scrounge for “The Next Big Thing” that will bring “Radical Growth” “Guaranteed.” So we read books on how to be a “Deep & Wide, Vertical, Purpose Driven, Radical Reformission, Creature of the Word, Big Idea, Center Church.” Then we jet off to a conference with thousands of other pastors who are seeking to glean the secret of success. And what is the first question we ask one another between sessions? “So, how big is your church?” Yep, we measure ourselves by the numbers.

#6. “We wish you knew how much we need your help.”

You can pretty much assume that in any given church, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. It takes a small army of volunteers to make things happen each week. Most people come to church and don’t think about how the sound is operated, the communion is prepared, the chairs are arranged, or how any of a hundred other large and small tasks get done. When you give your time, even just an hour or two a week to volunteer, it makes a tremendous difference. And not just for a week or a year—it makes a difference for eternity.

#7. “We wish you would come to us personally (and privately) when you have a complaint.”

Don’t use the guest connection inserts to gripe about anything. Don’t write an anonymous letter. Don’t talk to someone else about the issue. And please don’t air your grievance on social media! Please, come to us personally if you are unhappy about something we have done (or haven’t done). In addition, don’t complain about a problem unless you plan to be part of the solution.

#8. “We hurt deeply when good people don’t defend us.”

Every leader will have his or her critics; and that is certainly the case with pastors. We don’t expect to be immune from criticisms. But what hurts us the most is the silence of “good” members when we are attacked unfairly. Please say a kind word about us in response to the negativity you hear. Don’t let the few critics dominate the conversation.

#9. “We wish more people would trust God with their money.”

Any time we teach about stewardship, it’s an uphill battle because everyone believes the church only talks about money. It’s definitely not all about money, but it’s pretty high on the priority list of teaching topics. The reason is money touches every aspect of your life. There is a spiritual component to money that we can’t dismiss. We’ve seen it many times: when you begin to trust God with your money and use it according to His principles, strange (but good!) things begin to happen. We wish more people would take that step of faith and experience the blessings God has in store for them.

#10. “We wish you knew how much we need a sabbatical.”

Most people don’t understand the purpose of a sabbatical. It’s not a vacation, but rather a purposeful break from the regular responsibilities of ministry in order to get recharged and renewed. Because we’re on call 24/7, we often feel exhausted and depleted. We realize most other working people feel tired as well, but ministry brings a unique kind of fatigue—a fatigue not just of the body, but of the heart, mind and soul. A sabbatical is a great investment in a pastor to help ensure long-term ministry. It’s also a signal that you care as much about his well-being as his work for the church.

#11. “We wish you knew how much your encouragement means.”

We are often much more discouraged than you realize. We usually do a pretty good job of hiding it. But to be perfectly honest, the weight of leadership, the criticism, the pressure, the expectations, and the spiritual attacks are sometimes more than we and our spouses can bear. When you send us an encouraging email or note, when you pray for us personally, when you show love to our family, when you offer to help…that’s huge. Your encouragement can turn our whole week around.

#12.  “We wish you knew our intentions are always for the betterment of the church.”

It may not make sense, it may take time (a lot of time) but we want only the best for God’s church.

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Blonde brain?

My brain has been on vacation for the past few weeks.  (I know, I know – let the blonde jokes commence.)  Although I don’t have proof that said brain exists, I’m working with the assumption that it’s still up there.   So this little blog has been on hiatus.  I was waiting to see if my readers would sign on for season 2 or if you were going to replace me with Betty White.

I first noticed that my brain was a little slower than usual when I started a 40 day fast.  Hmm, just saw the irony in that – slow fast.  For almost 6 weeks I deprived myself of the very nutrients I count on for daily survival.  Chocolate, sugar, caffeine, pop and butter – my 5 food groups – disappeared.  The grief was unbearable.  I missed my friends.  Coke and I had spent our days together for as long as I could remember.  And Double Stuf Oreos, my comforter – gone. That break up still brings a lump to my throat.

My brain seemed stuck on pause.  While I realize that the very thought of blondes with brains is a lot like the idea of Jello with rocks, every once in a while I got a little hint that my brain is still up there. For instance, I actually knew 3 answers on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  In the same episode.  But the next day I was signing a birthday card for my niece and wrote my first and last name, as if she had another Aunt Dene’ and I needed to clarify who I was.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, when I addressed the envelope, I sent it to my own address.

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, but I want to take it slow.  I don’t want to cause a power surge and cause all the little light bulbs in my head to grow dim.

I suppose I could challenge myself to watch an episode or two of Jeopardy, but who am I kidding.

Yep, the Blonde is back.  Whatever that means.

Here’s a little something to see if your brain is still up there:

A family photo contained:

one grandfather, one grandmother,
two fathers, two mothers,
six children, four grandchildren,
two brothers, two sisters,
three sons, three daughters,
one father-in-law, one mother-in-law, one daughter-in-law.

29 people you may think, but no! What is the fewest number of people who could have been in the photo?

To see the answer you will need to stand on your head or turn your screen upside down.  If I could be a fly on the wall just to see how many of you actually do that!  Then we would all know who the REAL Blondes are, wouldn’t we?

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Inspired

I’m inspired.

I just finished reading 6 new blogs written by friends, friend’s kids, and cats.

This is supposed to be the year of the writer, the blogger, the twitterer and the pinterester.    And although spell check keeps signaling me to take the “er” off those words, it’s the truth. Time for the writer in all of us to break out and spread our wings.  Pin things to our boards, get people to follow us and repin – and if a hairless Pomeranian can get 42,569 people to read his twitters, then surely the rest of us can get a few people to notice us.

2012 is the year for my reinvention.  I just turned 49, and before I’m 50 I’d like to reconfigure, renovate, rejuvenate and reinvent myself.  I think the term used to be to ‘find’ myself.  I don’t need to find myself, I know exactly where I am.

Now I just have to figure out who I am.

Watch out Giggy – Reinvented Mom is coming.  Let’s just hope I can figure out Pinterest before it becomes a thing of the past…

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Clean Freak

I used to clean my house every day.  Seriously.  EVERY day.  I had a routine that included vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning the bathrooms.  I went through so much Windex my husband dubbed me the Windex Queen.  And it didn’t stop there.  My family had to endure countless times of searching for the glass they set down on the counter to refill because just as quickly as they set it down, I put it in the dishwasher.  On one occasion apparently my son fixed a bowl of cereal and when he turned his back to get a spoon, I dumped it in the sink and put the bowl away.  Truthfully, I never even knew I was doing it, it was just an automatic impulse.  My poor family – probably scarred them for life.

I LOVED to clean.  Not just clean, but organize.  I took great pride in the towels in the linen closet all lined up perfectly or the junk drawer being arranged by category.  Okay, I admit it, it is a little disturbing.

One of the best things about the chores of the day was the treasures I would find.  Laundry was the most financially rewarding.  Tom carried a money clip that he would often leave in his pocket and while it didn’t ever have anything larger than a few George’s, I stood fast in my belief of the motto “finders, keepers.”  A girl always needs a little cash for an emergency, albeit secret, chocolate craving, right?

Not all my cleaning discoveries were good ones.  When the kids were little, I learned the hard way that I needed to check their pockets before I washed.  It was during the early 90’s when some genius at Elmer’s decided glue should come in neon colors.  Stephen loved pockets and put his glue in a pair of white shorts.  (I know, why would I ever let a 5-year-old wear white?)  I spent the next year adjusting my shirts because they would get stuck to the hot pink splotches on my bra.

During that stage of life when the kids were little, I would find everything from Batman action figures, rocks, and Matchbox cars to crayons, pennies and Polly Pocket’s shoes in their pockets, their beds and what they thought were their hiding places.  One time I was cleaning and found a thimble in their secret playroom in the attic.  It wasn’t a real secret playroom – no Flowers in the Attic, I wasn’t that kind of mom, though a room with a lock was appealing at times (for me, for ME, not the kids!!) – but a playroom in the attic that could only be accessed from the secret door hidden inside Stephen’s closet.  Anyway, a THIMBLE.  I didn’t use them, but I had recently been to a fabric store with both of the kids.  Could it be that one of my kids had stolen the thimble?  And why?

Being the detective that I was (it’s one of the many Mom hats we wear) as we put them to bed, Tom and I told a story about a very bad little boy who stole things.  I’ll admit, we both assumed that it was Stephen because, after all, he LOVED his pockets and putting things in them.

We had barely made it through the story when Courtney burst out “I did it!  I stole the cup!  It was for Polly Pocket!”

The following day we made a family trip to the fabric store and I made her return the thimble and confess to the store clerk.  Unfortunately, the clerk thought I was crazy for making her return a 99 cent thimble, but trust me, Courtney has strayed as far away as possible from anything remotely related to sewing!

Back to the topic of cleaning house, I would like to note that it has changed through the years.  When Stephen got his driver’s license and started carrying a wallet, I can tell you that his wallet was the cleanest wallet in town because I must have washed it once a week.

But now that Tom only uses a debit card, my cleaning days are less fruitful.  The kids are gone, so I think the most profitable day in laundry was the day I found 11 cents in the bottom of the washer.

I cleaned house Thursday.  Now I’ve gone from every day to once a month.  And only because the cat hair floating across the floors is overwhelming.  And I guess you could say my finds are, er, different.  This time I found 2 orange ear plugs beneath a sea of cat hair under the bed, next to a stale frosted mini-wheat.

Times have changed?  I guess this is what life looks like when your nest is no longer full of children and has been replaced by cats.  Welcome to my world.

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My Funny Valentine

Confession time…

I’m not romantic.

Today will be the 29th Valentine’s Day that I’ve spent with my husband.  My hubby, Mr. Fit Forever, spent his last dollar on roses for me for our very first Valentine’s Day in 1983. Sweet, isn’t it?  I, however, bought him some boxers with little red Cupid’s all over them, which, I might add, he opened during CHAPEL. AT A BIBLE COLLEGE. IN FRONT OF CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE STUDENTS!  NOTE: This may be a little too much info, but he still has them and I can guarantee that they will make an appearance tonight. *blushing*

When we were attending that conservative, Christian college, we used to write notes to each other. We didn’t have much choice, if we got caught holding hands we were subject to PDA (Public Display of Affection) demerits.  So it was either write notes or spend a lot of time in the “prayer room.”  I found out on our 25th anniversary that he had saved every single one and keeps them in a box in the attic, right next to the poster that was taped to our car the day we got married.  I love that man!

Today he will hand me a gorgeous, sappy card from Hallmark.  It will be one of those big ones, and I, well, I will turn it over to look at the price.  He probably saved up for weeks to be able to buy it for me by ordering the $1 salad from McDonald’s for lunch everyday.

Yes, I feel guilty.

I didn’t get him a card.  But I did send him a hilarious video I found on YouTube.  I won’t tell you what it is, but let’s just say it features something he made the mistake of telling me he had a phobia of – poor guy should have known better.  Money talks people, if inquiring minds want to know…

For all the other non-romantic souls out there, I found some funny Valentine videos for you to enjoy.

You’re welcome.

Okay, I may not be romantic, but I’ve got a heart.  If you’re a mom, you may need to grab a tissue before you watch this last one.

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A rude awakening

I was in shock.  I had just discovered that my son had not one, but TWO babies – both named Fred, and that he had dropped them off at a daycare on his way to work but couldn’t remember where it was located.  In the meantime, my parents had come to visit and I was trying to figure out how I was going to tell them about their new great-grandchildren when I felt a stabbing sensation in my derrière.

And then I WOKE UPLiterally.

Holy cow.

One miniscule, pointy, strand of straw from one Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats was stuck to my behind like a thorny sand spur.

That’s right.  Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats.

Did I ever tell you the story about being married to someone who eats in his sleep?  Due to the cold weather and the fact that I refuse to turn the thermostat past 64 degrees, instead of standing in the kitchen to eat he brings the food upstairs to enjoy in bed.

Yes, I said EATS IN HIS SLEEP.  When Tom enters the REM pattern of sleep he stumbles into the kitchen, opens the pantry door, and searches blindly for something he can eat.  He’s been doing this since he was a toddler.  After 26 years of marriage and the constant flow of crumbs through the house, I should have been prepared.

It was only a couple of years ago that I got out of bed, stumbled through the house doing my daily routine of chores, all the while feeling a heaviness tugging from the back of my pajama top.  I finally took the initiative to change clothes only to find a half eaten blueberry pop-tart stuck to the back of my top.

Do you wake up to a smorgasbord in bed?  What about finding cereal tucked neatly into your night stand drawer?  Seriously?

Tonight, as I lay myself down to sleep and pray the Lord my soul to keep, I get to cuddle with Mr. Fitness and I’m not complaining – have you seen him??

I’ll take him for another 26, 36, or 46 years.  Crumbs and all.

Now would someone call Kellogg’s?  I think this has internet viral video written all over it!

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Thank you Caroline Manzo

FINALLY. I can step out of the closet.  Thanks only to Caroline Manzo.

If you don’t know Caroline Manzo, then you probably don’t watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey.  But you should.  It’s fascinating!  And Caroline is my FAVORITE housewife.

Last year on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Caroline, a 49 year old mother of three grown kids, admitted that she shaved her face when she was in the shower.  Not because she had whiskers, but because it helped her to exfoliate her skin.

Thank you Caroline Manzo!

I had never been more relieved in my life because this just confirms that I’M NORMAL. I’ve been shaving my face for almost 8 years, ever since I bought that blasted 15x magnification mirror and discovered I was fuzzy.

And apparently I’m in good company.  Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor used to do it too in order to obtain smooth, exfoliated skin.

To all the ladies over 40, if you think we’re crazy you probably haven’t invested in a magnification mirror yet.  Trust me, you should.  And to all you ladies who are under 40 – welcome to middle age girls, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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