Maybe you just feel like he doesn’t greet you or treat you as you expected.
That was the case with “Anne” who emailed me her question: “What should I do if I think my pastor doesn’t like me?”
Anne says she often has an “overwhelming feeling whenever my pastor greets me that he’s pasting on a smile. I can sometimes see him dig deep for it, too. Ive seen him turn away in hopes there was someone else to speak to and then, finding no one else, dig deep for that fake smile and turn back to me. It hurts.”
I ran Anne’s dilemma by my husband, a former pastor of 20 years, and he had some great insights that can help us understand pastors and how to better deal with the situation if you feel your pastor is blowing you off.
First, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Have you had a less than positive interaction with your pastor in the past? If so, it’s possible he’s being cautious. No one likes confrontation or the idea that they have disappointed someone. He may be a pastor, but he’s still human.
- Are you at a large church where your pastor is a little far removed from most of his congregation? Wanting a small-church feel from your large church pastor might not be realistic. On the other hand, if it’s a small church, he may have quite a lot on his mind each time you approach him.
- Could it be a timing issue rather than a personal one? If you are experiencing a less than enthusiastic reaction from your pastor when you arrive at church it could be that you are approaching him at a difficult time. Many pastors have much on their minds on a Sunday morning. They are thinking about the sermon they are about to deliver, whether or not the tech will work for their visual aids, wondering if everyone is in their places so they can start on time, and perhaps even wondering if the person who contacted them during the week will still have a problem or suggestion that morning that they are not able to deal with at the moment. While a pastor should focus on his people as they are arriving, he may be under pressure to focus on a lot of other things, too. That’s not necessarily his fault.
My husband offered this advice if you still feel your pastor is blowing you off:
- Lower Your Expectations and Extend Grace. You have one senior pastor to how many people in the congregation? He will never be able to meet all the expectations of all the people in the congregation. Today, we expect our senior pastor to be a great visionary and CEO, yet a great detail person, too, who can get things done. We also expect him to be a people person who will take time to hold our hand, pray for us, and be genuinely empathetic to our feelings no matter what issues are pressing in on him. We pretty much expect our pastor to be a jack-of-all trades and most likely he is not. He’s simply a man called by God to shepherd a flock and do a whole lot more that his board of elders or deacons or congregation expects of him.
- Seek to Encourage Him, Rather than Be Encouraged. It is in our human nature for us to enter church with the expectation of how we will be greeted, treated, and spiritually fed. But when you enter the doors of your church with the aim of encouraging your pastor and others, rather than being encouraged yourself, it will bring joy to your heart and his. I promise you it will go a long way in improving whatever is going on there.
Hebrews 10:24 tells us:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works….
That applies to our encouragement of our pastors, too. Here’s a tangible way to do that.
The next time you come in to church hand your pastor a brief hand-written note of encouragement. As you hand it to him, say” “This is some encouragement for you today.” (That will take your pastor off of the defensive if he’s used to being handed notes of complaints, suggestions, or something he isn’t able to deal with at the moment).
In your note, write something to the effect of:
Pastor, just wanted you to know I’m praying for you this morning that the Lord will empower you to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit and refresh your heart as you refresh ours.”
If you do that, chances are he will respond differently the next time he sees you. Why? Encouragement is in short supply these days for a pastor.
How have you broken through to a pastor you felt was keeping you at arm’s length? My readers and I would love to hear it in the comment section below.