“You Will be a Great Pastor One Day”

I have received this comment more than once in my time serving as a pastor at Resurrection. It makes me wonder…

What does the individual think of me as a pastor now?

When does the transition from “will be” to “are” happen?

Does this have to do primarily or exclusively with my age? (27)

Is there any other way to respond other than with, “Thank you”?

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7 thoughts on ““You Will be a Great Pastor One Day”

  1. I do think they’re just trying to pay you a great compliment, but it is interesting to think about what they have in mind. I almost wish you could say, “Thanks, what does that look like to you?” I’d be interested how much their idea of great pastor is shaped by what they see at Resurrection in Adam Hamilton (would I be correct to assume most people encounter him in weekly worship?) or if it’s from other pastors they’ve been in contact with.

  2. I agree with Matt. I don’t think they’re trying to belittle you or anything like that.
    After my first sermon here, someone came up to me and said “we heard that our new associate would be an asian pastor and we were worried that you would be very quiet. but you’re not and we love it!” what am i to say to that?

    I think it’s a factor of a great senior pastor (probably people want to see more pastors like him) and our age. maybe ppl still view you as an intern.. being taken under the wings of great leadership (again because of the age).
    and maybe the transition from ‘will be’ to ‘are’ may happen when you, yourself are a senior pastor, or you look old and have kids… I don’t know. but people are quirky and funny.

    Maybe you can reply with a gentle smile and say, ‘thank you, i’m also trying to be a great pastor today.’

    or… you can pound your chest and yell, ‘imma man! i’m da man! i’m da man! who you think I is? i’m da man!”

  3. It is admittedly tempting to respond, “Thanks! You will be a great church member one day!” However, that would not be particularly helpful!
    Part of the reality of a pastor in his or her first appointment is to learn how to take what people mean as compliments even when they don’t feel that way. There is something of a tendency in your first appointment to feel like you are sort of a mascot, whether you are the only pastor or an associate pastor. One thing worse than such a compliment is not getting any at all! That can happen to those who actually are great pastors, but who do not have the status or recognition of someone like Adam Hamilton. I think there are varieties of greatness, and some varieties receive more recognition than others.

  4. Matt – Thanks. Most people do see Adam weekly in worship, which is more often than they would see myself or any of the other associate pastors. I appreciate your thought of asking to clarify what exactly they mean by what they say.

    Joseph – I have no idea how to respond to that… Thanks, I guess. I think you are right that people see my appointment as one that is primarily training, learning, growing, etc. I have found this to be true. Thinking back to when I was first appointed, I have changed and grown a great deal.

    Dad – That probably would not be very helpful, but is pretty funny! I had never thought about serving as a “mascot” but that is actually pretty accurate. Thanks for the perspective on compliments versus no compliments also quite helpful. I think that you are a great pastor.

    Kansas Bob – That does begin to make more sense. Thanks for your perspective.

  5. When I read your questions I thought I had to let you know that you are a great pastor. When have you not felt like you did it the right way? When were you not able to lead a prayer or listen to someone’s comment? You have given so much to so many at such an early point in your going to be long career as a minister that do keep in mind, if it helps, that there are some folks you could think of wondering when they’ll grow into really good church members! You are doing an excellent job of serving.

    Sometimes I hear that I’ll be a great grandma. I know the speaker means that I have a way with kids and it’s not that I’m getting older or full of aches and pains. Look for the positive in what these gabby folks have to say to you and drop the negatives in the nearest ditch. You are a great pastor for any age.

  6. As a former associate pastor, I remember hearing that one all the time!

    As my move was announced and people transitioned to the idea of me being somewhere else, I did in fact here people say: You’ll do great as a senior pastor, so I think Kansas Bob is spot on.

    It’s a compliment that is trying to say: You’re young, but you have a lot of potential. After you’re finished serving here you’ll definitely be ready to lead a church….[and most of all] I like you as my pastor.

    Also don’t forget that many people aren’t used to young clergy. In most UMC churches, they are very, very rare. It may be truly hard not to sound patronizing when all their life their pastor has been older and more experienced in life than they.

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