While helping decorate church for the Christmas season our four year old son told our pastor, “I don’t like church… but I like you.” That’s no surprise, since at his age he’s far more interested in playing at church than listening. I like my pastor, too, but shhhh… don’t tell him. It may go to his head. We have a few things in common, topics we like to chat about — family life, sports, beer, scotch and sometimes even the current LCMS shenanigans. My pastor is the kind of guy I can grab a cup of coffee with or have a glass of scotch and a cigar with. He’s a good guy. I like my pastor.
It’s great that my pastor is approachable and connects with our children. However, I don’t think it’s all that important that he is likeable. While I greatly enjoy our conversations, I wouldn’t take it personally if we didn’t have them. His role as pastor in my life and the life of my family is more important than talking about how horrible the Vikings are this year or how good that latest bottle of scotch I got is. Our pastor’s aren’t called to be our buddies, and aren’t required to do anything above and beyond their office.
I’ve written before about being “friends” with your pastor outside of his calling as your pastor. (//steadfastlutherans.org/?p=33177) It can be difficult. Seeing your pastor outside the church may make you think less of him or maybe you fear he will think less of you. This fear can cause you to avoid getting to know your pastor as a person. But pastors are people. Hard to believe sometimes, I know, but it’s true. And as people, our pastors are also sinners. They struggle just like we do. They face the devil’s attacks just like we do — more so, even. They need the support of their brothers and sisters in Christ just as we do. And with every passing day the world makes being a pastor more difficult.
Pastors appreciate our encouragement beyond an occasional “good sermon” compliment. But we should also consider his service to us by offering our service and support — in whatever we can — back to him and his family. If we have a faithful pastor who we appreciate, we should feel comfortable enough to approach him, ask him how we can help. Regardless of whether we want to share a beer or grab a cup of coffee with our pastor, we should also try our best to help and support him in any way we can.
My four year old may not yet truly understand what our pastor does or why he is an important part of our lives. But as he gets older I look forward to having more in depth conversations with him about why we have a pastor and why we go to church. I pray we both continue to like our pastor for the right reasons — not for things of this world we both enjoy, but for his faithful service in the office of the Holy Ministry. I pray that our pastor will continue to preach the Word faithfully and administer the sacraments properly. Above all I pray for all pastors that they will continue to preach the Law sternly and the Gospel of Christ sweetly to sinners who so desperately need to hear it. As long as we have that, we don’t need to like our pastor.