Recently we were in Kathmandu, Nepal. A kind pastor not only gave us their bedroom, but invited me to preach at his church. I was the weekend wonder. Later, I wrote the following which Pastor Umesh Bishunke read to his people:
You received us so warmly at church November 13. You sat still and listened so well to my message on Three Encouragements. Thank you.
A Weekend Wonder (a visiting speaker) arrives in town and he is exciting, new, fresh. No one has heard his jokes. No one knows him. He captures attention and he preaches well. He engages the audience with his eyes because he knows his message so well, and seems to be a real Bible authority. The congregation likes him. He puts something in the offering basket.
How about the steady soldier? The steady pastor who has served a given church for a long time — what is he like? First, everyone knows him. Any mistakes he made – five years ago, or even ten years ago — are remembered. Everyone knows him, his jokes and his salvation testimony. He is tame. Everyone has heard the phrases he uses to describe salvation 300 times. His people know his favorite illustrations.
Also known are the times he served people within his congregation and was much appreciated.
Second, he has been around a long time. Some would like to hear someone else, since pastors have only one set of experiences and tend to see life through the lens of that experience. Others want only to hear “their own pastor.”
So who do you appreciate most – the Weekend Wonder or the Steady Soldier? Since I have pastored local churches for 40 years or more, I have been the Steady Soldier. And I have traveled enough that I have also been the Weekend Wonder. The new guy.
The following is why the Steady Soldiering Pastor is vastly to be favored, trusted, followed and appreciated over the Weekend Wonder.
The Weekend Wonder is probably a good man. But you do not call him at 2:00 A.M. when you have a family emergency. You call the pastor. The WW is not there for you, but the steady, soldiering pastor is there for you. You do not know the WW, but you have watched the strong, steady, faithful pastor over the years and you know he is not perfect, but you know he cares about you and he is there for you.
The WW is new, but since when is “new” more important in life than “loving?” Since when did “exciting” become a Biblical value more important than “consistent” and “careful?” When did “different” replace “self-sacrificing?”
The average WW has preached his message many times. For the record, while the pastor has to have a new message every Saturday, I have preached Three Encouragements about eight times. It is much tougher to have a new message every week than to preach something that has been polished, refined and improved through being preached many times. A new message takes me 20 hours to prepare, but I prepared about 20 minutes for the message I preached at your church November 13th.
Maturity Pastor Umesh Bishunke has been serving you for 18 years. It takes a lot of maturity to stay in a congregation that long. Eighteen years means he has weathered some storms ( Some – jealous of his influence — have wanted his pulpit; others have criticized him). Eighteen years means you know his warts and he knows your warts and you are still making it work. You are still together. My longest pastorate was 12 ½ years, so your pastor has done much better than I did.
You as a congregation are also to be commended for being with Pastor & Mrs. Bishunke for 18 years. When a mature pastor and a mature congregation team up and stay together a long time, there is significant fruitfulness. Good for you!
The Same Three Years Three Times Possibly you do not realized the following about pastoring. Certain things happen after a pastor has led a congregation for one year. Other, different things happen at the three-year mark. Different things happen at the 8 year mark. If a pastor serves a congregation for three years and then leaves, goes to a second congregation for three years and then a third congregation, he DOES NOT HAVE NINE YEARS OF PASTORAL EXPERIENCE. He has only three years pastoral experience in three different locations because the same things happen in the first three years of a pastorate.
The faithful, steady, loving service of a pastor is vastly better than a several Weekend Wonders.
Pastor’s Day Off Your pastor takes a day off, doesn’t he? God created and then rested. Does your pastor get and take a day off (those are two different things. “Getting a day off” is the church’s responsibility to give, and “taking a day off” is the pastor’s responsibility to take and not always do the “spiritual thing.”)? Pastors need a day when no one comes to his house, no one calls him (unless it is an absolute emergency, in which case, of course your faithful pastor wants to be with you). He needs a day to be with his family, and /or to be alone with God.
In most cases, members of the congregation will be all right until tomorrow. Members of the congregation can (1) look to God until tomorrow and therefore leave the pastor and his wife alone until then; or (2) the congregation and pastor can arrange in advance for another person to fill in for Pastor Umesh such that he / she would handle whatever comes up, leaving the Pastor alone for a day. If things are not attended to as quickly as the congregation would like, maybe God is developing the patience of the congregation.
I have heard of more than one pastor who had to leave his home to be alone with his wife and/or children.
What Do You Want from Your Pastor? You want him to want to pray for you. You want him to want to serve you. You want him to want to be genuinely loving and interested in you. And Pastor Bishunke is. But eventually, any of us will ask, “What do you want to do for me?” Do you want your pastor to have day off? If you get a day off per week, is it wrong for him to have a day off per week? If you would like a raise in pay at your work, is it wrong for him to want an increase? If you expect him to want to serve you, is it inconsistent for him to ask, “How do you want to serve me and my family?” No pastor is going to do a great job serving his church, while doing a poor job of taking care of his family. Try to apply the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) to I Timothy 5:18. See also I Corinthians 9:11, 14. Matthew 10:10. Galatians 6:6.
When we stayed with them, they had no hot water in their house pipes. They had no heat in the house. No oven. Possibly you do not have those things either. Just be aware, Umesh and Yashodha were sinners before they were saints and saints before called to serve full time. They are human beings, subject to the same things all of us wrestle against.
We enjoyed them very much and we commend them to you as steady, faithful servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Keith Kaynor P.S. They liked the Bertolli’s Alfredo Sauce we brought with us as seen from the fact that both of them picked up a jar of the sauce when I reached for my iPhone camera.