I’ve served in ministry for over 16 years, as a senior pastor for 10 years.
I’ve seen people come and go, hate me and love me, but one thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to and couldn’t do anything else besides pastor, it’s my life’s purpose.
The stats are scary and staggering, only 1 out of 10 pastors who start in vocational ministry finish their career in vocational ministry. Take a moment and comprehend those numbers, only 1 in 10 planes that take off don’t crash.
There are lots of reasons why pastoring is challenging, and no doubt your profession is challenging too, but the difference is when your life is over and you stand before God you will give account for yourself, your pastor will give an account for themselves and everyone God entrusted to their care. It’s heavy and hard.
After 16 years of sitting under, working for, and being a senior pastor, I thought you might want to know the truth about your pastor.
1. Your pastor is trying their best
You may not believe it. You may think their just throwing things together, but they aren’t. The results may not be what you want, but I’ve never met a pastor who didn’t want to succeed or make a difference. They’re preaching the best sermons they can create, empowering the best volunteers they can find, and doing whatever possible to try and motivate you to be excited about your church. Whatever is bothering you about your church, trust me, they’re more frustrated than you are.
[bctt tweet=”Whatever is bothering you about your church, trust me, your pastor is more frustrated than you are.” username=”jasonisaacs”]
2. Your pastor works harder than you think they do
You may work more hours than they do, but you’re not working harder. Their mind never shuts off. They’re planning sermons, making phone calls, and doing visits. They’re always on call; they’re counseling, providing care, and being a spouse and a parent. Every time they get ready to finally take a break their phone rings with a call from somebody in the church. The emotional strain of pastoring wears them out. Don’t assume that a lack of physical labor means they’re not working hard.
I wrote a book about the emotional tole of pastoring called “Toxic Soul: A Pastor’s Guide To Leading Without Losing Heart.” Consider buying a copy for your pastor. Click here for more information.
3. Your pastor is rarely 100% confident
They work really hard to come across as confident, but most of the time when they are pitching a new idea or casting vision, their only “kind of” sure. They hope it works, they hope it was God speaking, but they’ve learned that waiting to be 100% confident will never come when you are working for God. I wrote more about a pastor’s illusion of confidence in this blog.
4. Your pastor has an ego
I’ve never met a great pastor who doesn’t have a little bit of an ego. They have to. When they walk into a church that hasn’t grown under the last five pastors, there has to be part of them that believes they can accomplish something others couldn’t. After enough people tell them “They aren’t getting fed anymore” your pastor has to have something on the inside that convinces them to walk up on the stage and speak again. Yes, some pastors can be egotistical maniacs, but every great pastor has to have a small ego to get out of bed every Monday.
5. Your pastor is worried you’re going to leave
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been attending the church for 20 years, pastors feel like you are just one conflict away from visiting another church. They probably shouldn’t be so defensive, but they have seen too many people walk out the door over small, silly things. The feeling of disappointment when someone leaves the church is impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced it, especially someone who is leaving. If you’re going to leave and choose to meet with them, use these tips I’ve provided in “How To Tell Your Pastor You’re Leaving Your Church.”
6. Your pastor takes things personally
Even when you preface your statement with “Don’t take this personally, but…” they still take it personally. I know in your mind it’s just a church, or it’s just a service, or it’s just a sermon, but to them it’s their life, calling, and identity. When you say you don’t like the music, or you’re leaving because no one has befriended you, they take it personally because you’re talking about their family. It would be like if someone said to you, “I really love you and want to hang out with you, but I don’t want to hang out at your house anymore because your kids are crazy. Don’t take it personally because it’s your kids, not you, but we’ll have to hang out somewhere other than your house.” That’s what it feels like.
7. You get on your pastor’s nerves sometimes
Don’t take this personally, but… you can be annoying sometimes. You probably don’t realize how fickle, or temperamental you are, but when you want to meet to talk about something “really important” and tell them you’re frustrated because your daughter didn’t get a solo in the Christmas play, it’s annoying. Sometimes it feels like the loudest people are the least involved, and that’s even worse. Which leads us to the next thing you need to know.
8. Your encouragement matters (especially Monday-Saturday)
You will never know how much your encouragement lifts their spirits, especially during the week. While your encouragement of their sermon on Sunday is nice, encouragement during the week feels like you really care, that during your busy day, you were thinking good things about them.
9. Your pastor would take a bullet for you
They would take a bullet for you, even if you wouldn’t take one for them. They have a burden for you because God gave them the burden. They pray for you, they care about you, and they would do anything they could to make sure you know God. There are times you might feel your pastor doesn’t care about you, but it’s not true; they do. They may not get to speak to you or may miss a visit sometimes, but if they didn’t care about you, they wouldn’t be your pastor, they would choose a profession with less stress, more money, and emotional stability.