My friend, Jen Taylor, recently wrote a blog post that generated quite a bit of cyberspace discussion: What Pastors Wish You Knew (http://bit.ly). She writes, “So I asked about two dozen Pastors what they wish the people in their church knew.” Fascinating stuff. And even more fascinating responses.
As I read Jen’s article (with interest) I found myself thinking a couple of things. 1) Yeah, there’s some truth to this. 2) If you really want the church you’re leading to know these things . . . then why don’t you tell them? Which got me thinking further . . .
If I compiled my list of “What I wish you knew,” what would be on it? And if I have that list at all, then why wouldn’t I share it? So here we go!
What I wish the church I lead knew
1. I consider it an absolute privilege to get to be a part of RiverTree. It’s not something I take for granted. Most times I say a quick prayer to God, “Wow, I can’t believe I get to do this!” But it is also a calling, an appointment, a sacred trust. And it is weighty. This is the Bride of Christ. So there are some days I pray to God, “Seriously, I have to do this?”
2. When I talk about money it’s not because I want your money for RiverTree. Years ago that may have been the case . . . “We’ve got to keep the financial engine running.” But these days, when I talk about money it’s because we have a serious disobedience, consumption, selfishness problem that most of us struggle with. Christians today give less than 3% of their income back to God, to the church, to the things that are close to the heart of God. And when our finances are messed up, life is messed up. When we don’t honor God with our money, then we aren’t walking close to God. I am compelled to help people get their financial lives in order in the same way that God is working in my life to rearrange my own. “You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
3. When I teach in our weekend gatherings, the person God works the most on is me! There are many times when I say things that I would rather not say. Hard things. The truth of God’s Word. But ultimately, you don’t really want someone who is going to tell you what you want to hear. We all need someone who will speak God’s truth into our lives in a loving way. My first calling is to help build God’s Kingdom, not to make people like me. Though, deep down, I really do want you to like me.
4. I don’t read anonymous e-mails or notes (at least I try not to). Writing an anonymous criticism violates the Biblical principle found in Matthew 18:15, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense.” If you have something to say to me, then read #5.
5. I actually appreciate hearing from you when I have said something inappropriate or damaging in a teaching. Or when something is broken in our systems. Even if you think the music is consistently too loud. But the people that I respect the most are the ones who speak the truth in love in a gentle and grace-filled way. And who choose the right time to say it (right before I’m getting ready to teach is NEVER a good time).
6. I covet your prayers. When you pray for me, my families’ safety, for God to protect His church, it means the world to me. This is a spiritual battle. Your prayers matter!
7. Your words of encouragement keep me going. Studies show that it takes 5 words of encouragement to counteract every single word of criticism. There are days when I’ll be slogging along just trying to keep my head above water and I’ll receive a note or a Starbucks giftcard :-), and my entire outlook changes. Remember, this is a spiritual battle.
8. As much as I wish I could be close friends with every single one of you, I simply can’t. With 5,000+ people calling RiverTree their church home, it’s a challenging task just to remember names. The reality is that most people can only keep track of 70 other people relationally. So, if we run into one another at the grocery, a restaurant, etc., please help me with who you are and I’ll always let you know, “Hi, I’m Greg Nettle.”
9. The whole “Pastor” title doesn’t work for me. When God handed out spiritual gifts, He neglected to include the pastor gift in my mix. As a follower of Jesus, I’m still called to care, to listen, to pray. But counseling kills me. Hospital visits don’t energize me. Pastoring wears me out. On the other hand, leadership, evangelism, teaching, all rev me up. It’s how I’m wired. It’s how God created me. So you can just call me Greg.
10. I really do love you. Deeply, with commitment, as the Body of Christ God has entrusted to me to lead. Thank you for remaining faithful through all of the years that God has allowed me to “grow up” with you. I love God with all of my heart–you can be sure of that. 22 years together . . . another 20?
I’ve never felt comfortable with “pastor” either. After all, we’re all called “priests”. Yes, being confronted with a complaint before teaching is hard. But looking out at the congregation and seeing that your wife is upset with something you said, and knowing your gonna get it on the way home is harder. :) Only has happened a couple of times fortunately.
Your love for people shows.
I was awake at 4:00 A.M. this morning. By accident I ran across a message you had posted. I spent time reading your website “The Roar of Love”. My mind took me back to a 10 year old in fifth grade. I watched you develop in the classroom. Al watched you take a turn teaching in Sunday School. As a teen we were there when you preached your first sermon. In my own mind I was aware that God had a plan for your life. How thrilled I am to see how He has directed and used your life to teach and enrich the lives of others.
My prayer is that God will continue to bless all that He leads you into.
This is what I want YOU to know! I am so proud of whom you have become. Continued prayers on your behalf.
Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. And forever thank you for pouring into me as one of your kids. It’s people like you who have helped me become a follower of Jesus all the days of my life!
Greg, I’ve been telling myself for a long time now that I need to express how much I appreciate you and your leadership of RT. I’ve sent emails in the past with either criticism or some form of correction, but I realized how much encouragement meant to me when I lead the UPV and I knew then that I needed to say something to you. So thank you so much. I love RT and where it is going and I’m so glad that God has me and my family here. Thank you.
Thanks Matt. No worries. Really appreciate the encouragement. It’s a joy and privilege to partner with you!