Recently I met up with Dave Heiniger, our new deacon over Student Ministry, to talk vision for this new area in our church. As we talked, he highlighted three things students need from their volunteer leaders. I plugged them into Evernote because I immediately realized that these are three things every person, not just every student, needs to feel from their pastors.
Pastors are responsible to feed, lead, and protect their people, yet all of the various pastoral responsibilities should be saturated by the reality of these three things. Pastor, when your people listen to your sermons, share a cup of coffee with you, come to you for counsel, or cross paths with you in your community, they should feel the following:
I am VALUED
Most pastors I know have a strong sense of divine ambition to see more people become disciples of Christ. After all, that’s the mission Jesus assigned us. Yet, if we’re not careful, this ambition degenerates into an inability to see people as anything other than numbers. If a person feels like a number, they will never feel valued. If a person does not feel valued, they will not and should not give you a voice in their lives. Pastor, your people need to feel that you value them.
I am LOVED
This one is tricky because love does not always feel like love. As a pastor, you have to say hard things to people on a regular basis and oftentimes these hard things may “feel” unloving. However, I’ve been in church long enough to know that the reason some people do not feel loved by their pastor is NOT because their pastor says hard things to them in love, but because their pastor does, in fact, NOT love them. If I am honest, I spent the first two years of vocational ministry not loving the people to whom God called me. This had major consequences for me and hurt the people God called me to help. As He is faithful to do, God radically changed my heart. Does he need to change yours? Pastor, your people need to feel that you love them.
I am LISTENED to
Have you ever gone to someone for help in the midst of a difficult day, just to have him or her cut you off or interrupt you in order to provide you with the solution to your problem? It’s frustrating, hurtful, and unhelpful, and that’s the way many of us pastor our people. We are quick with solutions and slow to listen. Curiously, we all know that more often than not, what people need most is someone to listen to them. Only then can we truly help. As pastors, we can’t hope to help those the Lord has called us to if we don’t care enough to hear them out. Pastor, your people need to feel that you listen to them.
Ministry is taxing, time-consuming, and often tedious. But, in the midst of the grind of this glorious work we have the gift of doing, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us value, love, and listen to the people He’s entrusted to us.