When I was ten, I got my first Swiss Army knife. It came with a two-inch blade, screwdriver bits, a nail file, bottle opener, and a can opener. It was awesome. I felt like I could do any and everything suddenly. Who needs all of those different screwdrivers from the hardware store? Why even bother getting another can opener? Not only do I have all of those in one tool, but I have all of them IN MY POCKET!
So you can imagine my disappointment when it began to dawn on me that sometimes you do need different screwdrivers.
There are a lot of pastors that try to be a ‘Swiss Army’ pastor. Maybe they feel like the church needs them to be, or they want to be that indispensible, or some combination of both. I think the job of ‘pastor’ is fairly susceptible to developing this ‘all things to all people’ mentality. For starters, there are a wide variety of tasks and skills that pastor need to have in order to do their job well. I mean, a day can consist of researching 6th century Mesopotamia for a sermon, visiting homebound, and helping draft a budget proposal, all before a worship team meeting later that night.
So here are some thoughts on pastors being the churches Swiss Army Knives of ministry:
It’s exhausting – I want to start with the obvious; trying to be all things to all people is exhausting. You’re not good at everything, which means that some things will take you longer than others. I love sermon writing and research, so I could spend all day (or week) doing that. Unfortunately, I also need to run meetings, keep in touch with my leaders (both higher and lower), and submit reports.
There’s a popular theory that says we each have a certain number of “spoons” each day to do the things we need to do. Some tasks are easy, taking fewer “spoons” to accomplish, while others take more. So while you CAN do a lot of different things doesn’t mean you can do all of them equally well or easily.
Take time to learn – Recently, I’ve had to shift into a more “hands on” role getting some ministry teams organized. Some of the ministries that I’ve had to get more involved with are ones that I am not as gifted in, such as our children’s ministry. In order to help lead and run the meetings, I have needed to spend some time researching and, more importantly, listening to the parents in my church about what they want.
Do I think I will always have to run the children’s ministry in my church? No. Do I think I will benefit from spending time learning about children’s ministry? Absolutely. I need to be aware of the challenges that come from each segment of ministry within the church, from finances to children, and that doesn’t happen by staying distant from the ministries.
You’re not a failure – I want to end on this one, because it’s one of the most important things I can say to my fellow pastors. When you have to spend days doing things you’re not very good at, it’s easy to go to bed feeling like you failed your church or even God. It’s easy to think that ‘if only I had _____________’, everything would be better. I know for me, I would love to have a worship leader to put together and run the Sunday morning worship service so I only had to preach. It’s really tempting for me to think that my sermons would be much better “if only”. And maybe I would do better. Maybe not.
Either way, I’m not a failure because of it. It’s tempting and easy to think that we’re failures because there’s always something we could do better. You’re not a failure.
You’re just a Swiss Army knife trying to drill a screw into the wall. It may be ugly, and maybe someone could do it better, but it’ll still get done.
Tell me your thoughts down below.
Remember, I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.