Manage Expectations or Manage Emotions

I just read an interesting blog post by a guy named Mark Behl  He explains that if we are not good at managing expectations we better be good at managing emotions. This thought got me to thinking about all of the churches I am working with that don’t have a pastor, and all of the pastors I know who don’t have a church. I don’t particularly like playing “match maker” because so often what I think is a great fit doesn’t work out. There are so many reasons things can go bad between a pastor and a church. But, I am beginning to realize that difference in expectations is one of the most critical causes for bad matches. Here are some examples:

I will see a pastor with strong leadership abilities go into a church that doesn’t expect their pastor to lead. They begin to resent the pastor when he makes decisions without “going through the proper channels”.

Or I will see a Youth Pastor who spends most of his energy out in the community trying to reach unchurched teenagers, while his church is frustrated that he isn’t spending enough time with the kids who are already in the church.

I know pastors who put a lot of emphasis on teaching the Word, delivering long well thought out sermons each week, while their people get frustrated that the service always “goes over time” each Sunday.

There are children’s pastors who spend their time developing a leadership team to care for children, while other people in the church can’t understand why that pastor is never down on the floor playing with the children.

I could go on and on. The thing all of these situations have in common is conflicting expectations. And so, a lot of emotional energy is spent dealing with the conflict. Behl is right that if you don’t learn to manage expectations you better be good at managing emotions.

I wish more pastors and more churches knew how to communicate with each other clearly and honestly before entering into a bad marriage with each other. Maybe we need pre-pastoral counseling. A professional counselor could meet with the pastor and church leader before they come together to make sure they are all clear on expectations, leadership styles, time management, etc. just like a pre-marriage counselor does. Maybe then we wouldn’t have so many premature “divorces” between pastors and churches.



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