The worst part about being a pastor is that I have no idea what I’m doing.
Regular people with regular jobs get performance reviews. They have a boss who tells them what to do and are given raises, promotions, or demotions based on how they perform. Even business owners can track the bottom line; the money will let them know how well they are doing.
But pastors have no bosses, at least not most. Some of you weird church hierarchy denomination people have such a thing, but alas, you’re weird. I have no performance reviews. Pastors are constantly told not to measure effectiveness by money or attendance.
So, what do I base my performance on? How do I know if I’m doing a good job?
“The spiritual growth of the people.” Oh great. And how, pray tell, does a guy judge that? And, furthermore, when a guy does judge that, boy howdy, how does he come out of that feeling like he has a clue that he’s doing anything right?
I have no idea what I’m doing.
As far as I can tell, the best way to know what a pastor should be doing is to not be a pastor. All non-pastors know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
Someone leaves the church, what should I do? Non-pastors will simultaneously tell me to leave the 99 for the one while also shaking the dust off my feet.
Someone complains about the version of the Bible I use, what should I do? Non-pastors say to be all things to all men to save some while also not trying to be a pleaser of men.
Someone wants my church to join the ecumenical food pantry, what should I do? Non-pastors tell me to come out from among them and be separate while holding all things in common.
In the end, I have no idea. Everyone else is absolutely convinced what to do. I’m insecure, afraid, and tentative, tied up in second-guessing decisions I made 17 years ago. My track record of decision making looks fantastic one day and the next day I look like JoJo the Idiot Circus Boy.
Then there are those who confidently and breezily tell me to “depend on the Spirit.” How do I know if it’s the Spirit leading me? From how it works out? If the decision leads to success I know it was spiritual and if it’s disaster I know it was not the Spirit? How well did that work for Job’s friends?
John 3:8 talks about the Spirit being like the wind, not knowing where it comes from or where it’s going. But a closer look at the passage says the thing that doesn’t know where it’s coming from or where it’s going is the one who is born of the Spirit.
In other words, if you’re following the Spirit you have no idea what it is you’re doing. People who know for sure what they are doing are probably cancelling out any Spirit influence whatsoever.
Based on results, I have no idea if I’m following the Spirit. But if being confused about where I’m coming from or where I’m going is any indicator, then I must be firmly tied to the Spirit’s rear bumper.
There is a foolishness about following the Spirit. If you always feel confident, odds are you aren’t doing it right.
The Bible is filled with questions, insecure people asking if this is really what they are supposed to do. Even John the Baptist needed to check and see if Jesus was the real Messiah.
Being a pastor is not easy. You do all you do knowing you will give an account for your watch over the souls placed in your trust. Fear that. Let that shake you in your clergy shoes. Put down the human strategies and the clear-cut plans and get blown around a bit.
Pastors should rarely have an idea what they are doing. There are certain things that are always true: preach the Word, love your neighbor, and so forth. But all of those things are applied in different ways, ways only you, led by the Spirit, can find out.
Don’t be surprised if you never have any idea if what you did was right or effective. Don’t worry about it. Do the right thing before God and Judgment Day will let you know how it went. Remember, He knows our frame and remembers we are dust. Serve the Lord. Do good. Don’t be a know-it-all.
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.