Pastors wear many hats

It’s the final day of July, and I want to post something. My blog has been rather quite this month, because I have been trying to make some progress on my dissertation. I hope to begin more regular posting again in mid-August. Meanwhile, I will continue to share interesting links in News and Notes. A few weeks ago I changed the look of that section, to help my readers realize that it is an integral part of my blog. Posts in that category do not appear in the main section, so be sure to look in the right sidebar for the latest posts. (This does not apply to those reading this on my Xanga.)

A pastor wearing too many hatsI have been thinking lately about my role as a pastor, and about what I should and should not be doing. A pastor wears many hats, and I have often mentally divided them into three categories:

  1. Preaching and Teaching
  2. This is one of the most important roles of a pastor. Elders (which includes pastors) are required to be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2). The Apostles were not pastors, but nevertheless they provided a good model by delegating other responsibilities so that they could focus on prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1-6). Ministries included in this category would be preaching, teaching Sunday School, training co-workers, preparing teaching and training materials, and leading Bible studies.

  3. Leadership and Administration
  4. Pastors are also called to exercise leadership. The spiritual gift of leadership (“the one who leads” in Rom. 12:8) is a Greek word that means literally “at the head of.” It was used in ancient Greek literature to designate the helmsman who steered a ship. While the pastor should not be doing all of the detailed administration, there is still a significant amount of time that ends up being spent here. Activities in this category include strategic planning, establishment of policies and procedures, oversight and evaluation of staff (both paid and volunteer), and ministry evaluation

  5. Pastoral Care
  6. The Greek word “pastor” means literally “shepherd,” and this category includes all types of caring for the “sheep.” To many people, this is the most important ministry of a pastor. Activities in this category would include visitation, ministry to the sick and suffering, pastoral counseling, and follow up of new people.

Juggling the hatsNow the trick is to “juggle” all these hats. At times I feel that I could do a good job if I could focus on only one of these areas, and that I could do a passable job with two of them. But covering the bases in all three areas is often overwhelming. In a large church with multiple staff it is easier for the staff to specialize and not try to cover all three areas. But the average church in the U.S. has less than 100 members, so in most churches this is not an option. How is the pastor of a smaller church supposed to handle all these roles? I have some thoughts on the matter, but first I would like to see what you think. Please share your thoughts.

2 Responses to Pastors wear many hats

  • c says:

    so given that pastors have so many other things to do, how can we still ask them theological questions or for advice on life and stuff without overloading them?

  • PK says:

    You should definitely still go to your pastor with theological questions of to ask for advice. Pastors should also be raising up other leaders who can help in these areas. You can help by looking for ways that you can help your pastor with some of the other things that he does, to free him to focus on his core responsibilities as a pastor.

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"True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." -- C. S. Lewis