6 Qualities a Congregation Should Expect of Their Pastor

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It is not too much to say a congregation places a lot of expectations on their pastor. To give you an idea of some of the expectations churches have, I recently googled: congregations expectation of a pastor. I found that most congregations expect their pastor to be:

  • A great preacher who accurately and dynamically proclaims God’s Word, while meeting their needs and inspiring them to live for Christ.
  • A wise leader who studies God’s Word diligently, spends hours each week in prayer, is involved in the community and denomination, while at the same time they are a faithful family man, someone who is always available for counseling, and home and hospital visits.
  • A man who knows how to best meet the needs of every age group; is biblically faithful, yet never offends anyone by calling them to repent; and can rescue and revive a dying church without changing anything.

That list is just the tip of the iceberg of what congregations all across America expect of their pastor. But are these expectations realistic? Can a pastor really be all these things? Should he be all these things? More importantly: What does God’s Word tell a congregation they should expect of their pastor?

Paul in 1 Corinthians 4 lays out six qualities a congregation should expect of their pastor.

6 Qualities a Congregation Should Expect of Their Pastor

(1) A Pastor should be a servant of Christ 

Paul begins chapter 4 by saying,

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ.” (1 Cor. 4:1a)

By using the word “servant” Paul tells us pastors are subordinates who are cater to the needs of their boss; they are helpers, assistants, servants.

Who are pastors to primarily serve?

Paul tells us pastors are first and foremost to serve Christ. I think that is an important point because it means the pastor’s primary job is to carry out the will of Jesus and not the will of the church. That’s not to say a pastor shouldn’t serve his church. That is not it at all. Pastors should certainly serve their church. But as one commentator puts it,

“When I serve Christ, I will best serve His people. When I serve His people, I may not serve Him.” — John MacArthur

What MacArthur means is that when we focus first on serving the needs of the church, we may give them what they want instead of what Jesus wants for them. While it might be easier for the pastor to give the church what they want, that is not always the biblical thing to do, nor is it always what’s best for the church.

(2) A Pastor should be a steward of God’s Word 

Look at verse 1 again. Paul starts by saying,

This is how one should regard us, [first] as servants of Christ [to that he adds] and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor. 4:1)

The second image Paul paints for us is that of a household steward. A household steward is someone who manages and dispenses goods to the household at the request of the owner.

Pastors are household stewards because they have specifically been tasked to manage and dispense to the congregation “the mysteries of God” or God’s gospel.

Pastors are to steward God’s gospel by making sure it is faithful taught in their church. As well as they are to dispense God’s gospel, His Word to His people.

Pastors are not to stand in the pulpit and dispense: Public opinion, or philosophical teachings; they aren’t there to give a political speech, an inspirational feel good message, or even their own opinions about how this world should operate. Pastors are not to do any of those things. Instead they are to dispense God’s Word to God’s people.

It is for this reason that I primarily preach through books of the Bible. I believe that a diet of consistent consecutive exposition is what is best for the church because it best exposes them to God’s Word, instead of my opinions or my soap boxes.

Preaching then isn’t me telling you what I know, or what you want to hear. It is instead me exposing you to what God wants you to hear – His Word.

(3) A Pastor should be a faithful worker for God

Looking again at 1 Corinthians 4, in verse 2 Paul says,

Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” (1 Cor. 4:2)

Someone who is faithful is someone who can be trusted to do what is asked of them. That’s what God wants and what a congregation should expect – pastors who are faithful to proclaim God’s Word to His people week in and week out.

In order for a pastor to be a faithful steward of God’s Word, his greater allegiance has to be to God, not to the church. That’s because there will be times when God’s message is needed but is not popular.

(4) A Pastor should be content with what God has given him.

Pastors, and all Christians for that matter, should not allow what they don’t have or what they are experiencing to get them down.

While it is easy to say we should be content, it is not always easy to practice, especially given that Paul tells us we will:

hunger and thirst..[be] poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless…[we will be] reviled…persecuted…slandered” (1 Cor. 4:11-13).

Even though we will experience those things, we can be content knowing God is sovereign and that He has a plan for each and everyone of our lives.

As well as contentment in the worst of situations comes by looking forward to Jesus’ return, knowing He will defeat our enemies one day. When that times comes, we will not only be vindicated for our beliefs, but we will also live in a perfect world with our Savior for all eternity.

(5) A Pastor should be one others can Imitate 

Paul tells the Corinthians they are to imitate him, to mimic him (1 Cor. 4:16). He doesn’t tell them that because he wants them to get on his nerves by playing an indefinite game of copy cat. He tells them to imitate him because he knows by them imitating his speech and actions, as well as his heart for God and others, they will better follow Christ. Just like Paul, pastors should be those others can imitate.

In order to be imitatable, we have to take following Jesus seriously. When Jesus called us to be His disciples, He didn’t just call us to believe in Him. He also called us to follow Him, to live as He lives, to allow Him to direct and guide our lives. So if we want others to imitate us, we must allow the One we are to imitate to guide and direct our lives.

(6) A Pastor should provide guidance and discipline, if necessary

Pastors are given as gifts of God to teach and lovingly guide their congregations in the truth of God’s Word with patience and long-suffering (Eph. 4:11-12). They are also given to rebuke and discipline those who are unwilling to repent (1 Cor. 4:18-21).

When I say pastors are to rebuke and discipline, I do not mean pastors have the right to be heavy handed or domineering. Pastors, even when they must rebuke or discipline, must do so with love, care, patient, and compassion, just as Christ does.


So these are the qualities the Bible tells congregations they should expect from their pastors. They should expect them to be men who are faithful servants and stewards of the Word of God, who are content, imitatable, and ready to guide and discipline with love and patience, if necessary.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are these the qualities you expect of your pastor?


Post adapted from my sermon: What should a congregation expect of their pastor?


8 thoughts on “6 Qualities a Congregation Should Expect of Their Pastor

  1. Pastors SHOULD engage in political actions and speak out against the depravity in the world. It is because of the silence coming from the Churches that society has degraded into a sick imitation of the worst parts of the old pagan empires.
    I know churches fear losing tax exempt status, but is a few dollars (which will come though if your doing the will of God-so there is nothing to fear) really worth watching silently as the world goes to hell? How can people be saved if all the churches are silent?

    1. Thanks for responding. Yes, to some extent we should be involved in Politics. However, I would caution that this shouldn’t be our ultimate goal. Politics won’t save anyone, but the gospel will. But, yes, certainly we need to be involved to a certain extent and support those who do. In my denomination (SBC), we have the ERLC, which is a political force in Washington. They are doing some good stuff, not only educating Christians, but also influencing public policy.

      1. If Christians influenced public policy, we would see that influence. The fact of the matter is that Christian groups are allowed to talk, politicians do a little song and dance then go back to destroying society. They are in the pockets of the money lenders and Christians are too cowardly to imitate Jesus and cleanse the temple.

        1. I think you are on to something, but I believe the way we influence public policy is through the church. We teach our congregations God Word, help them develop a Christian worldview, and encourage and pray for them to employ that in their everyday lives. Influence in public policy then begins with the mission of the church – to make disciples. As we win folks to Christ and train them in the Word of God, Christians will be more influential in public policy. If the church isn’t doing their job, politics won’t change.

          Also, when you say “cleanse the temple” I think you might be putting too much stock in politics and public policy in America. America is not the new Temple of God. We as believers are God’s temple. Jesus’ kingdom is a kingdom not of this world. That doesn’t mean we don’t work to be an influence in the political arena, but it does mean that is not where we put our hope. Instead we put our hope in a kingdom not made with flesh and blood, one in the heavens, one that will one day be established here on earth after Jesus returns.

        2. I the time of Jesus the temple was the source of the culture and public policy, today the source of culture and public policy is Hollywood. In a democracy, those who have control of the media and therefore public opinion, have more power than kings or emperors. Christians have not been doing their duty in protecting the morals of society from the corrosive influence of those who have been destroying Western civilization. Christians have a duty to cleanse the new temple society worships at-the mass media- by direct political action.
          The reason the moral majority failed was becasue they did not engage in actual political action, they reinfoced the established corruption. A 3rd party made up of Christians would be able to make actual changes. The problem is that Christians have been taught to be cowards, who think things like tolerance, equality and inclusiveness are values. They are not. https://psalm94.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/political-correctness-equality-and-the-cult-of-the-anti-christ/

        3. Jonathan,

          I think you make some good points, but again, I believe you lean too much on political action. As Christians, we can throw all our effort into politics, but if the politicians and constituents have not had their hearts changed by the gospel, our efforts may be in vain.

          Instead, I believe we need a balanced approach – political action bolstered and undergirded by gospel action. Unless the heart of man is changed, the law of man will remain the same.

        4. Those who do not live under the grace of Jesus Christ are to live under the law, we as Christians have a moral responsibility, a moral imperative to ensure society does not become another Sodom, something we have failed to do.
          The cultural Marxist agenda has infected the the Body of Christ and it is causing us to sin-same sex marriage, condoning all sorts of sins in the name of tolerance or equality- and we must cut it off to save the rest of the body. That requires direct political action. It is the duty of Christians to reestablish control of society and ensure that the laws of God are obeyed. We must reestablish the moral order.
          Far too long have we allowed the secular world to brow beat us into submission, it is time to use our collective voice and resources and do what must be done and cleanse the temple. The prophetic office, the one where morals are restored and the people brought back to God must come again or else we will watch society deteriorate even further.

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