It's always fun to start on a book and realize a few pages in that you're not the target audience. Like watching Star Wars and not knowing where Captain Kirk is. When I picked up the book Pastors Are People Too I hoped it would be a helpful read. What I took from it was less how it applied to me, and more about how helpful it would be for others to read.
Dodd & Magnuson wrote this from the perspective of pastors to non-pastors to share with them the struggles and realities of what pastors experience. It's not a complaint or an airing of grievances. Far from it. I have major issues with pastors who gripe and complain about their job or their life. Ministry is hard. It's not for wimps. That's why I was glad, as a pastor, to read what Dodd & Magnuson said.
The target for this book is for church peeps. It helps them pull back the curtain and get an honest assessment of what it's like to be on the other side of a pulpit. It gives a perspective many in the pews and chairs may not see because, well... that's just reality. The typical church peep isn't in the loop on the counseling, preparation, administrative, and personal side of ministry. They're not aware of the spiritual battles happening within and outside of a pastor's heart and family. For most, the only exposure they get to a pastor is Sunday morning.
Dodd and Magnuson cover a number of important topics for church peeps to know about: expectations (how many do you have? multiply that by your worship attendance), capacity, friendship, compensation, conflict, spouse, and family/kids. Like the subtitle says, it's all the things your pastor wants to say but we all know he can't. I found myself resonating with so many of these, feeling aches in the soul but knowing these were heavy things I'm only able to share with a very small group of people.
If you're reading this and you're a pastor, hang in there. You need a champion. Not someone who'll fight your battles for you, but someone who will hold you up like Aaron and Hur held Moses so God could fight for them. Give a copy of this to someone in your church who could be your champion. You are a fool if you try to be a shepherd alone. And you're a fool if you never ask for help, for prayer, for support, or for encouragement. One of the greatest and richest blessings in my life is that I have a running text thread with a Deacon who is nothing short of a Godsend.
If you're not a pastor and you're reading this review, please be your pastor's champion. Your pastor doesn't need a cheer squad. Your pastor needs a champion. Cheer squads say rah-rah, champions spend time in prayer. Champions hold up their exhausted pastor. Champions help dissolve conflict. Champions ask how you are doing, not what's next on the calendar. Champions genuinely desire to be a pastor's friend, not so they can get access or leverage. Church peeps, your pastor needs you to be a champion. He might be hanging on by a thread, his marriage could be in crisis, he could be overwhelmed by the spoken and unspoken expectations.
Here's five things you can do to be your pastor's champion today:
1. Ask how you can pray for him, not for church stuff, but for him and the family
2. If their family has children, help them find childcare/babysitting
3. Commit to squash gossip and disunity
4. Love him genuinely as a friend and brother in Christ
5. Bring others in as champions
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.