Recently there has been much written about the “Great Resignation” of clergy since the pandemic. While I understand those who are leaving ministry and those critical of their reasons, I was generally disappointed in the scope of the discussion.
As I was reading about the issue, there was one component that bothered me more than others. There were attitudes of Lone Ranger, Captain America, and Gordon Gekko that dominated the conversations, but disguised behind the veil of spirituality.
Many pastors seem to think they are Lone Rangers, that they are the savior, and their job is to appear just at the right time and save people from the dangers of modernity. They seem to think they have to do it all by themselves and they expect the people to be grateful for salvation that people never asked for in the first place.
Many ministers also seem to think of themselves as the superhero Captain America and see their job as protecting “American values” while shielding people from the bullets of the enemy of change. This is nothing more than a finger in the dyke and no one will be grateful for their ministerial futility when the dam breaks.
Some seemed to have embraced the evils of Gordon Gekko (from 1987 movie Wall Street) as they espouse that “Greed is Good.” They seem to focus on the number of people in worship and how much money people give. Since they measure the work of the Spirit of God based on their gross misunderstanding of bad economics, it is no wonder they do not see God at work in their ministry.
I believe the greatest failure of the modern-day church is the unrealistic expectations placed on church leadership, laity and clergy alike. There are pastors who are in ministry because they seek power. However, the day when ministers were held in honor is gone. In the past half a century, ministers fell out of respect and are seen as employees of a non-profit organization. In 1960s when surveyed, people said they trusted ministers or priests the most, however, by the 2000s, dentists were most trusted, and ministers and priests fell down to 31st on the list.
There are also congregations that think of ministers as nothing more than hired help to make sure that there are new people coming into their organization all the while keeping things the same. Of course, it is assumed that the minister will keep everybody happy.
As the world is changing the expectations of pastors must change. Already there is a shortage of ministers, there are too many churches, and as disillusionment with ministry will continue to grow, more ministers will seek other careers. The day of ministers and churches reexamining themselves is here.