Unrealistic Expectations of a Pastor

Unrealistic Expectations of a Pastor

Unrealistic Expectations of a Pastor

Pastor, you are called to follow Christ.Your are called to serve God’s Church.But the world is still broken.What is a pastor to do?

Most pastors of churches in need of revitalization find that their expectations of turning the church around in a couple of years are probably unrealistic. Add to this the expectations held by your church members are even more unrealistic as they await your supernatural powers to return the church to its former glory days (if it had any).

Paul Tripp wrote an article, “Unrealistic Ministry Expectations: What’s a Pastor to Do?” that has been really helpful to our pastors in RE cohort as they wrestle with this reality.

Probably all of our congregations expect too much of us and our families (i.e. home visits, hospital visits, attend every event and meeting, be holy and without sin, have perfect children, etc.). But that’s not the point of Tripp’s article. Tripp acknowledges this reality before turning his focus on the heart of a pastor. What if we have unrealistic expectations of our congregation? What if we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves created by the sinfulness of your own heart? He writes,

Unrealistic expectations cause each of us, even those of us in ministry, to live more independently and self-sufficiently than we ever should. In reality, every pastor is yet in need of daily rescuing, forgiving, and empowering grace. We need that grace because every pastor is a person in the middle of his sanctification, and therefore, not yet free from the presence and power of sin. This means that, moment by moment, those of us in ministry still need to be rescued from us!

Could it be that our unrealistic expectations have caused us to lose sight of our need for God’s sanctifying grace? Could we be guilty of placing too much value on the title of our position or the busyness of our schedule or the proficiency of our preaching and depend too little on God’s sufficiency? What if our misplaced motivations are actually making pastoral ministry even more difficult and causing us to be defensive or self-righteous before our church members?

Read Ephesians 4:12-13 again. You were called “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (ESV).

Doesn’t “all” include you?

God’s grace is still transforming you and he will use your journey as pastor of a church needing revitalization to sanctify you as He strengthens the church you serve. You and the congregation will be transformed as you daily depend on God’s grace and wisdom.

With all the expectations of your role as pastor, let me encourage you to commit to pursuing God so you can faithfully fulfill your calling to serve God’s people on a journey toward a hopeful future.

If you’d like to take a step further in application (as our pastors in RE Cohort do), consider how church revitalization begins with you and create a personal plan for your pursuit of God by:

1) Identify one or two areas of your spiritual life that you need revitalized by the power of God. Maybe its a specific spiritual discipline like prayer, fasting, personal worship, etc. Maybe its your faithfulness to evangelism or disciplining men. Whatever it is, write it down in a journal.

2) If you were to hit those targets, how would it change you as leader / pastor, or man after God’s own heart? What fruit would you see? Record these in your journal as well.

3) What goals do you need to draft today in order to bear the fruit you desire? What are your goals for personal revitalization? Take time to record two or three SMART goals in your journal.

4) Share your plan with a trusted peer for accountability and encouragement as you trust God for the results.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

The following article is an exert from the RE Pastor Cohort offered by SC Baptist Convention Church Strategies Group. To learn more about this resource visit or contact us via email at

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