I had two friends send me a link to THIS post in which a former pastor expresses eleven things every pastor wishes their church knew about them and their work. On my best day I agree with everyone of these and on my worst days I could add a few more. Being a pastor is hard work but so are a lot of jobs. What is hard about the pastoral vocation is unique to the pastoral vocation. Even though I may resonate with these I wish to say that I am personally glad that God called me. I am in no way complaining about my job. I am just trying to find a way to keep my head above water and perhaps even learn to swim!
Iv’e listed four here but you can read the rest at the blog. It really is a good read.
1. Our greatest fear is irrelevance. It’s not losing our jobs, hurting your feelings, or accidentally saying the F word during a sermon. Those fears are there. But they are nothing compared to the nagging fear that what we say and do is making zero difference in your life. That you are only showing up to church because of habit, or obligation, or mental illness. That we are laying ourselves bare to write and deliver a sermon every week that nobody is hearing. If your pastor has made an actual difference in your life ever, by word or deed or example or friendship, take some time this week to let him or her know, in as much detail as you can. You cannot imagine how far that will go.
4. We think about quitting a lot. Behind closed doors, most ministers talk about moving on with regularity. The job is hard in a way that people who’ve never done it cannot understand. Not physically, or even mentally. But emotionally it can wreck you. I don’t fully understand why, although I have theories. But just know, when you’re choosing how to interact with her or him, that your pastor is probably hurting and tired and wishing s/he could quit. And that, in most cases, the only thing keeping him or her there is a sense of love and obligation to you. Be gentle, sensitive, and grateful for that.
5. We envy people who can be themselves. We wish we could cuss without it making headlines. We wish we could get drunk at a party, just once, without it resulting in an elders meeting. We wish we could be enthusiastic about a hobby without people raising their eyebrows about how much time and money we’re spending on it. We wish we could make angry political remarks on Facebook. You know, all the things that you feel free to doall the time. You want us to be human, but not too human. Believe me, we know. And it’s probably for the best that we are charged with setting a good example, it makes sense. But just know, we sometimes envy your freedom to just be yourself.
8. We are lonely, because it’s hard to trust. Pastors often have trust issues. As well they should. All pastors have heard stories about Reverend So-and-so who confided in someone in his church about his addiction to whatever, only to have that person tell the elders about it, which ultimately got him fired. It happens. We know it does. So every time we interact with you, even if it’s in a prayer group or some very intimate setting, we’re not 100% open. We can’t afford to be. It’s not your fault, it’s not our fault, it’s just a bad system that doesn’t allow pastors to be as human as it should. You can’t fix that, but you can have understanding and compassion for the man or woman who loves and serves you week after week, who counsels you and hears your confessions, and yet often has nowhere to go to get the same healing and relief.
The final point says, “We care about you more than you can imagine.” This is very true. Believe me when I say I love my church and the people in it.