Pastor, Is Your Duty Description Well?
It may sound odd, but a duty description that is not well is going to produce chaos, plain and simple. Christians dare not use “job description” for ministers and ministries. If a duty description does exist, it is generally so minimally defined it is almost useless. Many pastors will answer a church’s call without a clear communication of what is required.
Expectations of the pastor vary from congregation to congregation.1 Such “job descriptions” will often mention the pastoral qualifications of 1Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 2, but will quickly digress into listing tasks that are not necessarily biblical.2 John Piper decries such a movement and calls pastors to refuse the “professionalism” of the ministry. In Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, he writes:
The world sets the agenda of the professional man; God sets the agenda of the
spiritual man. The strong wine of Jesus Christ explodes the wineskins of
professionalism. There is an infinite difference between the pastor whose heart is
set on being a professional and the pastor whose heart is set on the aroma of
Christ, the fragrance of death to some and eternal life to others (2 Cor. 2:15-16).3
Unqualified Lay Leaders
Church planter and author Bill Hull describes the difficulty of dealing with unrealistic congregational expectations in the Disciple-Making Pastor. The absence of a duty description will predictably produce the presence of problems. Referring to the experience of pastors working with unqualified leaders, he states:
In many cases leaders who do not walk with God tell pastors how to spend their
time and do their job. Such laymen don’t pray, meditate on, study, or memorize
Scripture. Many have never introduced a single person to Christ. How anyone
could lead an organization that purposes to save the world and never lead one
person to Christ is the enigma of the church. This kind of duplicity cannot exist
even in the business community. Furthermore, such leaders possess no concept
or experience in training, reproduction, or multiplication. The prospect that this
pathology dominates the local church landscape is tragic. The fact that ungodly
men dictate to godly men is one of the institutional church’s greatest sins.4
Unregenerate lay leaders are more than a possibility. Is there anything worse than an unsaved church member driving the dictates of pastoral duties? Churches must be much more careful when choosing leaders and be wary of simply filling a role with any interested person. Such an interest may not be pure.
Without the availability and viability of a biblical duty description, accepted by the shepherd and the flock, chaos will always be crouching at the church’s door. The enemy’s tactics have not changed and any seasoned churchman knows that volatile personalities are a chief aim of Satan. A perceived unmet need articulated in a “failure to minster” accusation is a weighty, but all-too common occurrence against today’s clergy.
Scriptural. Whatever job description is compiled, it must be wholly biblical. Any who refuse to recognize this simple and irreplaceable truth is spiritually immature.
Supervision. Whether pursuing a new pastorate or clarifying the present, a duty description can help to clarify boundaries, establish margins, and promote pastoral wellness. Unclear lines of supervision are unhealthy. Is the pastor supervised by deacons or the personnel committee?
Sincerity. A duty description is a means to effectively minster, not a tool of dictatorship. The pastor’s heart and mind must be in synch.
© Jim Fisher, Ph.D.
Christian Education and Leadership Concepts, LLC.
Fit for the Fight, January 2010
1 Much of the information is taken from the author’s dissertation: The Relationship between Selected Disciplines of Physical Wellness and Spiritual Wellness among Southern Baptist Pastors, 2006.
2 John Mac Arthur. Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry: Shaping Contemporary Ministry with Biblical Mandates (Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 1995),19.
3 John Piper. Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2002), 3.
4 Bill Hull. The Disciple Making Pastor: The Key to Building Healthy Christians in Today’s Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revel, 1998), 32.