The Perfect Pastor

A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…

October is designated as Clergy Appreciation Month. I’m not sure who comes up with these months, perhaps Hallmark. But hey, being part of the clergy via marriage, I won’t balk at any form of appreciation. Everyone loves to be appreciated!

Being a pastor is not an easy job. Perhaps that’s why a lot leave this profession each year. Some leave due to burnout. Some feel they want to do something else. Others are ousted due to personality conflicts, unrealistic expectations, theological differences, or conflicting visions for a church.

Finding good replacements is not easy. In fact, I heard a story about a man applying to be a church pastor. Although he was a loving man who cared for the flock, he was turned down for the following reasons:  

  • He was too young—only 30ish—so he wouldn’t be able to relate to the elderly.
  • He was single, so he wouldn’t be able to relate to married couples.
  • He didn’t have children, so he wouldn’t be able to help with child-rearing troubles.
  • He associated with those outside the church, so some in the church would feel neglected.
  • He had some close friends, so he would be considered cliquish.
  • He got angry occasionally, so some would say he lacked self-control.
  • He valued a woman’s opinion, so he would be perceived as a wimp.
  • He liked solitude once in a while, so some might think he was aloof.
  • Some of his messages were hard to understand, so he would not be a good speaker.
  • Some of what he taught was progressive, so he might be considered a heretic.
  • He taught basic principles, so he wouldn’t be innovative enough.
  • He didn’t jump every time someone said “froggy,” so some might think him inaccessible.
  • He favored the poor and needy, so the ones who could really give money to keep the church afloat might be offended.
  • He drank wine, so some would think he was an alcoholic.
  • Do you recognize this man? His name was Jesus.

Qualities of a good pastor have changed through the years. Somewhere in time the line between “shepherding a flock” and “managing the people” blurred. No longer are the qualifications mentioned in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5 enough. It’s fine to teach through a loving example what Christianity is all about like being prudent, kind, concerned, humble, balanced, gentle, hospitable, doctrinally sound, temperate, reputable, respected, and devout, but what about administrative skills, church growth strategies, raising money, and keeping everyone happy?

 Pastoring in today’s society is especially hard because church has morphed into more of a business organization than a gathering of people wanting to learn more about Jesus. On the surface, it may appear that all the pastor does is marry couples, preach the dead into heaven, and give a sermon once a week. Actually, his is an endless job of counseling, evangelizing, communicating with church leaders, visiting the sick, making people feel loved and valued, appeasing ruffled feathers, conducting Bible studies, being on-call 24/7, community involvement, cleaning the toilet when the janitor doesn’t show up, sharing sorrows and joys, listening to the disgruntled, and oh yes, trying to pray and study so he will have something spiritual to pass on to others.

Yet, those called to pastor do their jobs lovingly, because they truly want to serve others. They want to help others grasp the greatness of God. They want people to know that God is the answer to all their needs, hopes, and desires.

If Jesus Himself would not qualify to pastor a church today, then chances are your pastor is not perfect. A flock abuser should not be tolerated, but a pastor who errs on the side of giving, loving, and serving can’t be too bad.  

Showing appreciation through notes of encouragement and being supportive is a good idea. However, do not neglect the weightier matters. The most important thing you can do for pastors today is pray for them and their families! Prayer is the perfect appreciation present! It’s a priceless gift that costs the giver little. So I urge you to pray for all pastors—the perfect and the imperfect, too! The fields are ripe. The laborers are few – and getting fewer all the time!   


Father, if I am totally honest with You, being in ministry for over fifty years has not been easy. Ministry is especially hard for pastor’s wives and their children. It would be a lot harder if I weren’t married to a man You have anointed with Your grace to be a loving shepherd for every congregation he has served. He has always been a helper of their joy, not a policeman of their faith. To God be the glory for this wonderful giftedness!

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