The Secret Pain of Pastors
Peter Drucker, the late leadership guru, said that the four hardest jobs in America (and not necessarily in order, he added) are:
- The President of the United States
- A university president
- A CEO of a hospital and
- A pastor
Is that true? Pastors love God and love people. They get to pray for people, lead people to a faith in Jesus Christ, and teach the Word about God.
That’s the dream job. You can read the Bible all day, pray, play a little golf, and preach. I want to do that!
Here is the secret. Being a pastor is hard work. It’s not for wimps.
This is the reality—the job of a pastor can be 24/7 and carry unique challenges.
Some pastors wear themselves out trying to help people. Some wound their family because they are so involved in ministry. Others flourish in their ministry and personal life.
Approximately 85% of churches in America have less than 200 people. Sixty percent of churches are under 100 people. The average size congregation in the U.S. is 89 people, according to The Barna Group. Staffs are small, and needs are great. In many situations, the pastor needs to be a Bible teacher, accountant, strategist, visionary, computer tech, counselor, public speaker, worship director, prayer warrior, mentor, leadership trainer, and fundraiser.
Who can be all of that?
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
- 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
Personally, I love being a pastor. I have a great staff. We have great people in our church; I am content whether going through good times or difficult seasons. Of course, it’s a lot easier to be “content” when things are good. I have great friends who are pastors. My marriage is strong. I am a better man because of my time in ministry.
Some of the unique problems that pastors’ face are:
- Frustrations & Disappointments.
(Click HERE to read this entire article, and an in-depth description of each of these problems).
How Christians and church members can help:
Pray for your pastor.
Pray for guidance, protection, healthy friends, their marriage, and family. Pray for inspiration, anointing, the leadership team, unity, and clarity.
Protect your pastor.
As best as you can, don’t allow or participate in gossip and criticism. How can you serve and problem solve to prevent overload?
Encourage your pastor.
Thank him for his or her work and ministry. Thank them for their sacrifice. Tell them a specific time in which you or someone you know experienced a life change in their church. Honor them to others. Let your pastors know you are praying for them. According to the Barna report—the profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman.”
Don’t give up, pastor! Persistence is powerful.
Keep on. Really! Your work, your labor of love, and your sacrifice matters.
I realize the last thing a pastor needs is another sermon. But these verses have helped me. Hold on to God’s Word with your life.
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Gal. 6:9 NLT…
Pastors that are struggling or are no longer in ministry may have unresolved hurts. I encourage you to find healing. Seek counseling; find a local Celebrate Recovery group; equip yourself with resources on healing (some examples are Safe People or Boundaries) and share your secrets with safe people. Remember you’re only as sick as your secrets.
*The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc. provide the statistics I have used in this post.
Philip Wagner is Lead Pastor of Oasis Church in Los Angeles and founder of Generositywater.org.
You can read the entire post HERE.