Should a pastor be an expert at everything? Seeing the pressure often placed upon pastors to be experts in every subject, Dr. Michael Kruger urges believers to keep God’s Word the center of ministry.
When it comes to pastoral ministry, there’s many things about it that are challenging and hard. I mean, it’s hard to be a pastor in any generation. It’s particularly hard to be a pastor these days when you’re expected to kind of be everywhere at once, deal with everyone’s problems, you’re expected to have sort of this ubiquitous presence among every ministry in the church. And that can be very taxing both on time and relationships in a congregation.
When Congregations Expect It
Well, there’s one challenge in recent days that has been particularly hard for pastors is that oftentimes congregations almost expect their pastors to have the answers for everything, no matter what the issue is, no matter what the cultural question of the day is, whether it’s sort of moral or political or economic. Everyone kind of turns to their pastor and says, “What’s the answer to this question?” That is tremendously difficult pressure to live under as a pastor. We already have to deal with theological and doctrinal questions, and now we’re being asked to give sort of our opinion about almost everything in our culture. Our goal as pastors is to be as competent as we can be in one particular area, and that is the study and teaching of God’s Word.I’m not sure how that happened and why it happened this way that now pastors are expected to sort of be experts in everything. But I just want to reassure the listener, whether you’re a pastor or you’re just a member of a church, this is not the calling of a pastor. A pastor is not called to be an expert in everything. There’s no way you could be an expert on everything, first of all. We’re just finite human beings. But it misses the whole point. Our goal as pastors is to be as competent as we can be in one particular area, and that is the study and teaching of God’s Word. That is the centerpiece of who we are as ministers.
When Pastors Try It
Now, the problem, though, isn’t just that congregations expect this of their pastors. There are some pastors that actually try to be this, and this is another side of the equation. Some pastors have kind of turned into modern day pundits where now they almost opine about every issue coming down the line. In one sense, it’s not so much that people are demanding them to be experts, but they’re, in a sense, positioning themselves as experts on everything. There’s a proper place for just saying, “Look, I don’t have to comment on everything.”And this is also something that we need to think hard about. Pastors need to make sure they’re not presenting themselves as experts on everything on the planet. They don’t have to weigh in on everything that comes through the news cycle. There’s a proper place for just saying, “Look, I don’t have to comment on everything. I don’t know everything about everything.” And that level of intellectual humility is really important for ministry.
To focus on the main thing and to focus on the thing that we’ve been trained in, which is the study of God’s Word, is going to make sure that we have a healthy, balanced ministry. So no, pastors don’t have all the answers. God never has expected us to have all the answers. And I hope that’s actually a release of pressure for those of us who are in the ministry.