As a pastor, there are times people only seem to see you like someone from the stage or leading a meeting or study group. With limited interactions and the superficiality of our culture, it’s hard to know and be known. As I have talked to many colleagues, pastors, and church leaders, I have discovered I’m not alone in this. So here are a few things I think pastors always wanted to share but rarely get the chance to do so:
- We struggle with sickness and death. Though we may show up to do hospital visits and preside over funeral services, we too have a struggle. We also grieve when those we know and love in our flock are suffering. We too have a hard time with the untimely death of a loved one, an infant, or a devasting diagnosis someone receives. Pastors aren’t immune to the question, “God, Why?”
- We have doubts. Our faith is never rock-solid all of the time. We wonder if we are making an impact if it’s worth the work and heartache to be in ministry. We had doubts when it comes to our relationship with God and experience dry seasons in our spiritual life. We don’t always “feel it.”
- We work harder than you know. It’s not just a Sunday job. There are several things behind the scenes to get done to make Sunday’s worship experience happen aside from the logistics, needs, pastoral care, and discussions that take place.When we are not working, it’s hard for us to detach and not always think about our people and what we can do to improve and grow.
- The sermons we preach are a 2×4 between our eyes before the message is preached to the congregation. It convicts our hearts of our shortcomings, faults, and sins. It is something that God is trying to teach us, and we can undoubtedly identify with those in our flock. It’s always funny when someone says, “I felt like you were speaking directly to me!” I want to say, “I’m actually preaching to myself, too.”
- We crave balance. Many things pull us in different directions that are all important, such as family, work, relationships, mental/physical health, continuing education, and just plain old life. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m neglecting my wife or kids too much in a week. I feel guilty for not communicating as much with my mom, sisters, nieces, and nephews, or there are times I feel like an inadequate friend to someone. These are fleeting feelings, and there is truth or the lack of it behind them at certain times.
Pastors are in one of the most challenging vocations, and we are also told that society doesn’t respect it for a variety of reasons. Yet, here many of us are, being faithful to the One who called us.