Why do you need to cope with a vicar?

If you have a problem coping with the church, is the vicar part of the problem? In some churches the title is rector, curate, priest, pastor or minister, but the point is that someone is in charge. If you can’t relate to that person, you will find it hard to feel at home in the church. I know, because I’ve had experience, but it’s something I didn’t cover in my book How to Cope with the Church or in my recent blogs on the subject.

My book: it does not say much about coping with your vicar

My book: it does not say much about coping with your vicar

What could be wrong with your vicar?

The issues I’ve encountered come in various categories.

  • Doctrine. You don’t agree with his/her take on the Bible or some aspect of church policy.
  • Preaching. Not ‘what’ but ‘how’. Over your head, patronising or just too long?
  • Leadership style. You find it too dictatorial, or too laissez-faire.
  • Management ability – lack of. Someone who is inefficient, disorganised or unreliable can be really irritating.
  • Personality. Too distant or too in-your-face? Too serious or a would-be comedian?
Do you need to change your vicar by changing your church?

I have experienced all of the above, and, looking back, I can see that some of the issues say more about me than about the vicar. I learnt from each of them, even when I decided to move to another church, which I did only once, not counting times when I moved home, when I could not accept his High Church beliefs. Even so, I am glad of the experience, as it made me really question my own beliefs. What mattered? What did the Bible really say?

Does your vicar have good points too?

I have learnt that a lot of the qualities listed can be seen as good or bad depending on your personality. Can you learn to value different types of leader and see that nobody is ideal for everyone? Do you need to examine your priorities? By the way, some of these things are addressed in some churches by having team ministries, where one person’s weaknesses are offset by a colleague’s strengths.

How God answered my prayers for coping with my vicar.

I once had a vicar whose annoying features seemed to be getting worse, or at least they were annoying me more and more. It was mainly about inefficiency and personality. I prayed about it with someone who felt the same way but was coping better and God helped me to see the man’s good points, which were Faith and Love. Then I saw that the rest of it was far less important. Perhaps God wants to show you something similar, if you pray about your problems coping with your vicar.

What if none of this applies to your vicar?

There are some vicars who don’t tick all the right boxes but just inspire you and share their vision with you. None of the above apples to them. If yours is one, you won’t need any advice on coping, because you won’t notice their shortcomings.