Expectation Versus Reality

Here’s another I started two years ago after reading 21st Century Pastor by David C. Fisher for seminary. Did anyone else have long discussions in high school English about “appearance versus reality?” After undergraduate/graduate education, you come up against “expectation versus reality.” As young professionals, we believe (with our newly acquired knowledge) we can take on the world. The reality is . . . theory clashes with practice. It reminds me of Human Development majors who would try to give advice to my wife and I about raising our first daughter. Rather than feeling grateful, we often felt insulted. Our child was not developing at the rate that she should be. I digress. As pastors (and church leaders), it should not be our goal to rush people into conformity. Rather, it should be our goal that people experience transformation as they encounter Christ.

Excerpt: I have a theory about starting out in a ministry. We all begin with high ideals and expectations. It takes about three years for me to offend everyone (although some pastors can do it a lot quicker). By then I’ve failed to meet all the impossible and unspoken expectations of the congregation. And by then they’ve disappointed me and failed to live up to my unreal expectations. Then, and only then, can real pastoral ministry begin, for it is then that we have to decide if we will love one another and believe the gospel. But too often we can’t make that decision. Far too many of us are wrecked on the shore of harsh reality. Pastors inevitably report a high level of frustration in their vocation. We are frustrated about conflict in the church, futility in our labor, and failure in our people.