Are we paid to be the Holy Spirit?

Pastor job performance evaluationI’ve been looking through a lot of youth pastor job descriptions for various available positions around the country and one thing continues to stand out to me:

Do churches sometimes expect pastors to play the role of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives?

I see a lot of expectations outlined that have to do with inspiring growth, be convicting, teach dynamically, etc. But how much does that depend on us and how much of that is ultimately a work of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives?

I’m not sure I want to push this perception too far because there obviously is a lot of overlap between what we do and what the Holy Spirit does. I see it more like us doing our best to partner with the Holy Spirit’s work more than being held responsible for it.

I posted about this on the Life In Student Ministry Facebook Page yesterday and got some interesting feedback. Here are some of thoughts from other youth workers who responded to the Facebook post.

  • “I think most churches have job description that are unattainable.” — Jeff Greathouse
  • “In all honesty I would stay away from a church that communicates job ‘responsibilities’ that are the Holy Spirit’s in the first place. Not only is it unhealthy, but if for some reason the Spirit isn’t moving the way the church expects him to be, then it’s not the Holy Spirit that will get in trouble, it will be you. Find a church that desires for you to be faithful in communicating the Word to your students, and is open to allowing the Spirit to work through your faithfulness however He wants.” — David Turner
  • “I don’t even know if the Holy Spirit could do some things (or be some things) that churches look for.” — Adam Wormann
  • “Often churches don’t really know what they want or haven’t thought through a philosophy/theology of ministry so they write theological job descriptions that make no sense.” — David Lynn

There’s obviously some cynicism in some of these comments, but are they based on truth? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.


QUESTION: What’s the balance between what we can do to help facilitate spiritual growth and people taking personal responsibility for their own spiritual growth? Do churches sometimes hold expectations for pastors that should be reserved for the Holy Spirit? Comment below!

Posted on December 29, 2011

  • Ximerivera225

    We have to look for a church that is as far as possible from “religious” teachings.

    In my case, I was working in the youth ministry of a church, at the beginning everything was very constructive and I was growing while teaching and praying with my students, but there was a moment where my leaders thought I had grown enough so they expected to see Holy Spirit moving more till they expected me to give prophecy to every one of my students in each reunion. Some times, the Holy Spirit gave words for some of my students but some other times he was just working silent and for me it was ok. But to my leaders it was a sign that I was not listening to God, or i was not living in “holiness”.

    I think we have to trust in our relationship with God and be sure that if we ask Him to do whatever He wants in our lives and through us, He will. Not expecting Him to do it in some way or another, He will always surprise us because He works in many different ways.

    Our responsibility with our students is to teach them they have to put their eyes in the Lord, cuz although we are the teachers we are not perfect. We sin and make mistakes so they have the responsibility to look for their own spiritual growth. God is essential, we are not. Some day we won’t be there but God will.

    • Anonymous

      Religion is not a bad thing. If a church is practicing religion that is a good thing. James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

      I would actually want to serve in a church that has “religious” practices.

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