Friday, October 17, 2008

Wanna Be Heard By Your Pastor?

I originally published the little blog blurb below about a year ago. The tips are still effective! It came to mind because of last Sunday being Pastor Appreciation Day. There are a lot of tips out there to show your appreciation for your pastor, but in my opinion (as a pastor's wife and one who must patch him up and send him out ;-) one of the very best ways to show appreciation is to disagree agreeably. There is no church in existence where conflict will not arise. Not even yours. So the next time you feel you need to approach your pastor about something that's bothering you, keep in mind the following tips from my side of the pulpit.

How to be Heard by Your Pastor (or Your Spouse, or Boss, or Parents, or...) the Other 11 Months of the Year
For some reason, people seem to think they know what their pastor does on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, and better ways in which he can do it. I don't know of any other profession, except perhaps sports coaches or the presidency, where we think we really know better than they do how they need to do their jobs. If I might gently toss in my two cents' worth, I'd like to ask those of you who do have better ways for your pastors to do things to bring your recommendations to them in the following ways:

  • TIMING - When you are bringing your ideas to the pastor, is he in the middle of something else? Is he trying to counsel someone, or in the middle of doing some sort of task or responsibility? Most people want to talk to my hubby right after church, which is fine. He loves people. But he can't possibly get to everyone who wants to talk to him on Sundays. Your pastor is undoubtedly in the same situation. Watch your timing. If he's surrounded by people wanting to talk to him after service, then send him an email or voice mail requesting a time to meet. Don't butt-in; don't be rude. I guarantee that if you think about your timing, you may very well end up with a favorable meeting with your pastor where he will be more relaxed and receptive to your comments than if you try to grab him before or after church.

  • NO BACK-DOORING What in the world does that mean? It means if you have something to say to the pastor, then say it to the pastor, not to his wife, his friends, your church friends. Be brave and honest. Pray and ask the Lord to help you have the courage to talk face-to-face rather than behind his back. It will go much better for you if you are up-front and honest. Going to others first will be perceived as gossiping, and your cause, even if it is noble, will most likely be disregarded.

  • TONE - My mom's wisdom is best described in two words: "Be nice." When you go to talk to your pastor about some issue, whether it's positive or negative, how's your tone of voice? How about your facial expression? Do you look like you've been baptized in vinegar? Is your voice on edge? Every pastor is a human, and no human enjoys getting "talked at" by anyone, even if their idea is fantastic or their concerns are legitimate. Speak to your pastor in the way in which you want others to speak to you. Think about how you would feel if your pastor showed up at your workplace and started telling you better ways to do your job... yeah. I'm not saying you shouldn't talk to your pastor - I'm just saying that if you want to be heard, pray much about what you want to say, then say it with grace, gentleness, and self-control. It is much easier to be heard when the one to whom you're speaking isn't on the defensive.

Those are just my little tips which are effective in many situations, not just in dealing with pastors. Try them when you speak to your husband or wife, or your children, or the cashier at the grocery store. You will be amazed at how much a little diplomacy can do to help you be heard.

Happy Clergy Appreciation Month!

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