Mrs. Gore’s Tips for Not Making Your Pastor Wish He Was Anything But a Pastor

One aspect of my life that I don’t talk about very often is the fact that I am married to a pastor.

My shepherd at church is also my shepherd at home.

Not to be confused with my infant baby, Shepherd. You can tell him apart from my husband/pastor shepherd because he wears onesies and his name has a capital “s”.

Anyhow, this not only makes me the heralded “pastor’s wife”, it makes me an expert in all things pastorly.

And since I am both a full-time layperson/congregant and married to a full-time person of the cloth, I thought I would merge my two worlds today and give some pointers on how people like us (the congregation) can be a help and not a hindrance to people like us (the minister and his wife and family).

As usual, I can only talk about things like this because our church is the totes awesomest. I give you my word, there is no hidden agenda or lurking jabs in the words that I shall henceforth be sharing.

Or in the words that I heretofore shared.

Let us begin.

1. Obviously, don’t be a poo-poo head.

I’m glad we had this talk.

2. Guard your little words.

As your God-appointed leaders, your pastor spends his week praying and, if you’re lucky, maybe even fasting, with you in mind, expecting the Lord to do something great in your life; thus, imagine how it must deflate him when he sees you at church and says “Good morning! How are you?” and your response is “It’s cold in here” or “Your microphone is too loud.” Um, ouch. Try instead to tell him what you appreciate about him or how the Lord used the sermon to impact you. He truly wants to hear about it. Then you can tell him you’re cold. In a nice way, of course (see point #1).

3. Likewise, guard your big words.

Speaking of “um, ouch”, I’ve taken note over my lifetime in church of how folks tend to speak more bluntly to pastors than they do others. As a full-time SAHM/homeschooler, I can’t imagine what it would feel like if someone walked into my home and started picking apart my realm, not only finding fault with the things that make up my entire life, but sharing my faults openly with others, all before giving me pointers on how to do my job better. It would be heartbreaking. Guard your tongues, ye brutal and loose-tongued opiners, and, not to be redundant, but…see point #1.

4. Give your pastor plenty of family time.

Our church is the BEST at this. We are five years into our ministry here, and never once have I felt that I am competing with the church for my husband’s attention. Granted, he has set firm guidelines in this area, but our church has also done its part, giving him freedom to come home when he chooses, to keep flexible office hours, and to arrive and depart from church with his family rather than in separate vehicles (meaning, no late-night meetings, etc.).

A church that competes with, rather than nurtures, their pastor’s life at home fatally damages his potential for fulfilling his biblical call. Tsk, tsk, tsk. That’s worse than being a you-know-what  (see point #1).

5. Incline your ear and follow your leader.

My husband pour hours into preparing his sermons, every week. On top of that, he writes a daily Bible reading guide so we might better ingest the exposited text. He asks us to pray for specific things. He encourages us in specific areas. He gives us tasks that are unique to our situation…

that’s his job.

Now it is the job of the congregation, myself included, to follow. The most encouraging church members are the ones who really listen and do the things their pastor asks them to do (obviously, this includes neither sinning nor drinking any kind of poisoned fruit punch).

6. Think about your particular gifts and use them to minister to your minister.

It has been a joy for me to watch our congregation encourage our family, in all kinds of different ways. Their gifts literally keep us going. Whether it is the deacon who makes hospital visits to give our pastors plenty of study time, or the older women who tidy up my husband’s office, or the young mom who brings us food, or the widow who frequently sends us encouragement, or the couple who constantly prays for us, or the man who mows our yard, the love and generosity of our church family makes the way so much easier for us.

Do the same for your pastor, and I’m pretty sure you’ll get an in-ground swimming pool in heaven.

7. Work hard to keep your pastor safe.

You can do this in so many ways. Pray for him. Give him plenty of rest. Pray for him. Protect him from she-devils with wicked intentions. Pray for him. Be his visitation buddy. In other words, be his watchdog and his mother hen. Taking care of your pastor helps ensure he will be equipped to take care of you.

Oh and don’t forget to pray for him.

8. Give him time and room to grow.

Although it is imperative that he meets the requirements that scripture lays out for his eldership, your pastor is being sanctified just like you are. Remember, pastors are people, too. And people are poo-poo heads sinners.

9. Give him time and room to preach.

It has become a token joke in today’s church culture to make references to the length of the pastor’s sermon, and although this is usually in good fun, I can imagine that it could easily turn harmful.

Imagine, for a minute, the pressure of knowing that the God of the universe was watching to make sure you said everything you were supposed to say. And then imagine looking out across of sea (or a small pond) of people who were tapping their feet and checking their wristwatches, expecting you to accomplish that daunting task in twenty to thirty minutes per week.

Cherish the pastor who is more afraid of God than he is of you, and give him the freedom to do his job and do it thoroughly and “with joy” (see Hebrews 13 below).

10. View your pastor and his family as a team.

This advice is more practical than it is biblical, but I appreciate it so much that, when our church members pray aloud for my husband, they pray for me and our children, too. I also personally love it when women include me in messages they send to my husband or seek us both out for advice; it is in no way necessary (because I read all his messages anyway), but it is a very cool thing to do, and it strengthens our family unit, which, again, is only for the good of the church.

11. Pay him well.

Many dole out big bucks for their doctors, dentists, accountants and personal trainers without question, but then expect their pastor and his family to live like paupers.

You pastor has been assigned by God to watch over your soul and train you in righteousness, the single most important aspect of your life…

you can help by making sure he doesn’t have to worry during the week about how he is going to afford some cornbread to go with his beans.

(Kudos to our church family for our generous salary and for a yearly cost-of-living increase!).

12. Include him in your decision-making.

I’m guessing at the math here, but 9 times out of 10, congregants approach their pastor for advice on big decisions…

after their decision is made.

Contemplating a huge change? Tempted to join another church? Feeling like getting a divorce? Make haste to the preacher-man, seek his biblical advice and counseling, and, if he isn’t leading you in something that is unbiblical, do what he says to do. Which leads us to our next point…

13. Make the way easy for him by submitting and not grumbling.

This one is straight from the Bible. Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Your pastor will answer to God for how he led you. You will answer (also to God) for how you followed.

‘Tis a very freeing and simple arrangement, is it not? I wish I had realized that sooner.

14. Keep poo-poo heads accountable.

Lastly (but almost certainly not leastly), if you hear someone speaking ill of your shepherd, either gently rebuke them or change the route of the conversation. Their words will not only harm your pastor, they could harm your own ears, planting seeds of discord in your heart that could lead to a root of bitterness. Which could turn you into a…well, see point #1.

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As with any list of advice or etiquette, I am sure these pointers are far from comprehensive, but I hope they provide some helpful insight. How I could have used this list when I was younger! If I could go back and be a better sheep for my former pastors, I most certainly would. Consider this my public apology, for when I typed these words and revisited old memories, I felt sheepish, indeed. Baaa.

I also deeply apologize for how many times I said or referenced “poo-poo” in this blog post. 

~

Mrs. Gore’s comment policy: all comments are read and appreciated, but only those that are edifying and do not lead to lengthy internet discussion are approved.

And, finally, because I love ya, a pin for your bookmarking and sharing convenience…

pastor tips

Mrs. Gore’s Potluck Etiquette

It has been awhile since I shared any ridiculous etiquette advice with you, and, as church potlucks are a common occasion for many of us, I thought today would be a good time to give a little guidance for navigating the potentially complicated waters of the casserole scene. Especially when the casseroles are watery…

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1. The numero-uno cardinal potluck rule: Never, ever, comment on the food you just tasted unless to say it is delicious. Simple as that. Break this rule and you will live to regret it.

2. Likewise, never, ever scrunch up your nose after tasting someone’s…interesting…casserole dish. Puh-puh-puh-poker face, baby.

3. Take extra precaution in the handling and cooking of your food for a potluck. I don’t know about you, but the thought of giving salmonella to my entire church body in one fell swoop is the stuff of this Baptist woman’s nightmares.

4. There are unspoken rules that must be obeyed when it comes to the recipes of your church family. Here they are:

  • The first lady to make a delicious recipe, even if it actually belongs to Paula Deen or the Pioneer Woman, forever has dibs on that recipe. In fact, from now on, it should be dubbed “So-and-so’s dish”…as in, “Megan’s lasagna”, “Amy’s chocolate chip cookies”, “Chrissy’s peanut butter brownies”, “Kodi’s peach crisp”, “Charlotte’s Pinterest-worthy Peeps cake”…
  • In fact, this is true not only at potlucks, but at any church gathering or if anyone in the congregation is sick or just had a baby. Never make another lady’s prize recipe unless you are making it for your own family. And again, when you do make it for your family, make sure they know, this is Megan’s Lasagna.
  • I personally have dibs on my potato soup recipe, snickerdoodles, granola, mini cheesecakes, lemon blossoms, sugar cookies and gooey butter cake. Feel free to make them at home, but if you bring these to a potluck or to a sick person in our church, you are dead to me.

5. This is just my own personal opinion, but…why’d you have to go and put cottage cheese in that perfectly delicious looking jello salad? Your salad is now dead to me.

6. In all seriousness, scan the room before you sit down with your typical buddies and see if you can’t find a table with someone you don’t know very well. These potlucky situations are great opporunities for developing unity and fellowship in the church. You can even bond over a game of “what’s-in-this-mystery-salad?”

7. At our church, we always let the elderly line up first, and encourage the children to go last. A perfect teaching opportunity, don’t you think?

8. We used to have a Pee-Wee Herman video that included a short movie in it about a boy named “Mr. Bungle” who always heaped lots of food on his plate at school and chose the largest piece of chocolate cake in the line-up. In other words, show some restraint, Miss Piggy. This is a potluck, for crying out loud, not an all-you-can-eat buffet.

9. Unless otherwise engaged in important or fruitful conversation, don’t be a lazy-britches and sit around smacking your fingers while the kitchen ladies are cleaning up after a large meal. Look to the ant, thou potluck sluggard! (I’m pretty sure that’s in Proverbs somewhere).

10. But then also be sensitive to the old truth of “too many cooks in the kitchen.” If you find yourself with nothing to do and are causing a major traffic jam in the kitchen while you stand there and gab, move on, sister!

11. And finally, in a modern church age where potlucks are slowly being replaced by trendy coffee-bars and fancy cook-outs, remember…you’ve got to fight. For your right. To potluck.

(…Did I just reference the Beastie Boys in a potluck article? Excuse me for a moment while I try to process this surprising turn of events…).

Okay, I’m back. And what I mean is…don’t really fight. But don’t let my favorite meal die. Potlucks are nostalgic. They’re fun. And they’re tasty, too!

Except for when they’re not.

But we’re not saying anything about that, are we?

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potluck etiquette

Mrs. Gore’s Social Media Etiquette

I have mixed feelings about social media. It is a blessing, for sure (for instance, a lady like myself can start her own blog, publish her own posts, and call herself a “writer”. Thank you, internet!).

But it can also be a mixed bag of weirdness and drama and unnecessary ridiculousness.

And while I don’t imagine I have the wisdom to speak to the world at large on this subject, I can at least target one group of internet users and abusers: Christians.

My brethren.

My peeps, if you will.

A few days ago, I was contemplating how exciting it is to be able to interact with almost anyone via the web. Have a new favorite author? Entertainer? Someone whose music you admire?

Where just a few decades ago we were resigned to writing fan mail and sending it to addresses we knew Justin Timberlake did not actually live at, praying that somehow his assistant would read it and be struck by its contents before making sure JT saw it with his own eyes, today, we can simply ‘like’ that person on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, and, miracle upon miracles, its like we’re friends, y’all. 

And if that person is too launched into fame to actually have time to respond to our little one-liners or even ‘like’ them, we can at least have a glimpse into their every day activities and get a better idea of what they are like as “real” people. I would have died of happiness to know what sandwich Justin was eating for lunch 14 years ago, but (sniffle, sniffle), I just didn’t even know, you guys.

Life was so hard back then.

But I digress.

In the Christian realm, I think this blessing grows exponentially, and it has been a huge thrill for me to interact with my favorite Christian authors and speakers on facebook or through e-mail, to learn more from them, and to have the opportunity to tell them how they have spurred me on in the Christian faith.

Therefore it has been absolutely distressing for me to witness the jabby responses, the unnecessary rudeness and the unsolicited responses and advice that some “believers” are habitually spewing across the internet, especially in the comment threads of influential brothers and sisters who have been kind enough to allow us into their lives.

I am blessed here at Mrs. Gore’s Diary, mostly because my readership is so small, and the only people who really want to read what I have to say seem to agree with me across the board. You might not love the fact that I accidentally dressed up like a witch last Halloween, but…water under the bridge, right? (Right?…)

However, I am shocked sometimes by the things I read in the comments section of other blog posts or in response to even the most innocent and light-hearted facebook status updates.

The commenters obviously consider themselves to be devout and of the Christian faith – I can tell by their language – but their tone can be so very condescending, sometimes laced with bitterness, sometimes dripping with cruel sarcasm, and most of the time, completely inapplicable and utterly off-the-mark. They misread the author, and then in their haste to respond, they wound the original source, they enrage a host of other readers and they make themselves look like arrogant, unfeeling, out-of-touch…meanies! And the sad part is, I bet most of them are pretty nice people in real life.

And so, speaking of unsolicited advice, here is some from yours truly, a glimpse into my personal  social media etiquette:

1. Only comment in the following scenarios:

  • to encourage the author of the blog post (or tweet or status) or to make them giggle.
  • to ask a serious or heartfelt question that you would like the author to respond to.
  • to engage with other “followers” or “fans” who are probably of a like heart and mind in a way that edifies both parties.

2. If you are leaving an impassioned response to reform an author or speaker, or to sway their audience, save your breath. These are real people, and they have their own pastors and their own spouses and their own accountability partners. Let’s trust the Spirit to teach them through the people that are actually a part of their life. It is probably a proven fact somewhere that these forums are the least effective for changing anyone’s mind. The only people who will agree with you are going to be the people who already agree with you. Everyone else? You’ll just be riling them up. Not cool.

3. However, if you are truly concerned by something you’ve read and are seeking understanding or a deeper dialogue, do so through a private message!!! If you can’t find a way to private message that person…well, sorry. I was never able to get that private audience with Justin Timberlake, either.

4. Learn to read. I am a very literal person, but I know the difference between a facebook status that is a joke or an attempt at self-deprecation, and a true plea for advice or comments. Unless someone actually says “What should I do?” they are probably not soliciting a serious response.

5. Before hitting ‘enter’ to post your comment, ask yourself “Would I say these words to this person in this context if we were face-to-face? Would I say this to anyone EVER face-to-face?” The answer is usually ‘no’. So don’t say it.

6. Remind yourself that, just because you are sitting and staring at a screen, there are real people on the other side, and you will be held responsible for every word you say. The Bible explicitly says that the world will know we belong to Christ by our love for one another, and we are shooting ourselves – and the gospel – in the foot with our unnecessary opining if the overarching theme is not love and kindness and a spirit that at least longs for unity. If you cause one person to stumble by a comment you leave on the web, you, as Michelle Tanner would say, “are in big trouble, mister.” Weigh your words and, no matter how vehemently you disagree and no matter how badly you want to throw in your two cents, silence is usually the best course. On the web, that is.

7. It is lazy to say “well so-and-so put herself out there by saying that in the first place. She asked for it.” Nonsense. That doesn’t mean you should retaliate.

8. Shush.

9. Humble yourself and remember that the world doesn’t really need to hear what you say. Your family needs you, your church, your friends – you are actually called to hold them accountable and to speak truth to them – but those random hundreds of thousands of people on the internet? They might not need you, especially if you are mean-spirited, and you are certainly doing more harm than good by continually picking fights in comments sections. If you are not seeking to encourage or to simply enjoy yourself, it would probably be best to sign off and stop using your computer keys to jab at everyone.

10. If a person you follow is continually riling you up and you just can’t handle the temptation to keep from responding, there is a sure-fire way to soothe what ails you: the ‘unlike’ button. Done. Your life – and everyone else’s – just got a lot sunnier.

Of course, if you run your own blog, you can opine all you want, with 10 points and everything.

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Thank you, friends, for listening. Hope this helps. And remember, I will see all comments, but only publish those that are edifying and/or agree with what I said. :)

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how Christians should behave on the internet