I recently read a little article called 11 Pains of Being a Pastor. It sort of hit me hard. It hit me as in, ‘this is really true’. I’m going to give you the entire list because I’ve lived each one of these. When I read them I felt the hurt and sadness again in somewhat vivid color as names and faces of people flashed through my mind.
It probably won’t hit you quite the same way it hit me unless you share the same job as a pastor that I do. I’m wondering if it will resonate with you because, it’s my guess, if you are a Christian and you really do believe in all this Jesus stuff about reaching His world with His love and all that, you’ve been hurt. You’ve been disappointed because you care.
Here’s the list that Pastor Chuck Lawless penned in his article posted on ChurchLeader.com.
- Some marriages at which you officiate won’t make it. You pray that they will and work hard in premarital counseling to counter that possibility, but it happens anyway.
- Some nonbelievers with whom you share the gospel with won’t listen. The pain is awful when nonbelievers just keep rejecting the good news.
- Some of the seemingly godliest people you know will fall into sin. I’ve done this work a long time, and I’m still shocked at times. The enemy leaves no one off his radar.
- Some church members will get mad and leave. The first time it happened in my ministry, I was defeated for weeks. It still hurts when it happens.
- Some spiritual heroes will let you down. No one intends for it to happen, but even our long-term heroes are still human.
- Some staffing situations won’t work out. That’s when you’re reminded that because you’re a leader, your decisions affect marriages and families. Letting someone go, especially in our ministry world that preaches grace, is seldom easy.
- Somebody related to your church may take his or her own life. I’m not sure I have ever felt so inept as when all my ministry efforts didn’t stop this kind of tragedy.
- Some people won’t know how to relate to you. No matter how hard you try to prove you’re a regular person, some people will be uncomfortable around their spiritual leader.
- Some days will be really lonely. When you’re quietly bearing the burdens of others, the weight can be heavy and the hours long.
- Somebody may criticize your family. Even the people we most love aren’t immune from the attacks of church members—some who genuinely mean well, but some who are just plain mean.
- Some of your friends may betray you. It happened to Jesus, and it can happen to us, too.
I think numbers 4 and 10 evoke the deepest pain for me.
I’m thinking that you can relate to a bunch of these if you’ve cared enough to purposely engage people in this thing we call ministry. When we pray for people, call people, reach towards people, encourage people, love people, share with people, give to people and then we pray some more and things don’t move in the direction we were hoping, it’s heart breaking. When we were so sure that, ‘GOD WAS IN THIS’, and then He wasn’t…it’s disappointing. When we felt we heard His voice so clearly and did all we could to move towards His leadership but it just didn’t work out, we’re more than confused. We’re hurt…even angry!
I really do want to be used by God. I know I screw it up all the time. But I try. I really do try. I pray hard. I try to be generous with my time and resources. My family sacrifices so much, more than I do. I try to make myself available to as many people as possible. I study like crazy and try to listen to God’s leadership so I can bring the best message that I possibly can week in and week out. I counsel. I strategize. I encourage.
I simply do the best that I can but they leave anyway. People divorce. People get angry or disappointed. People criticize. They don’t respond, serving needs go unmet and the list goes on.
I write all that not to get any ‘nice comments’ or to make anybody feel sorry for me. Not at all.
I just wanted to say that with all these ‘pains’ in mind, I would still do it all over again. I’d leave my career in business, building homes to build the kingdom all over again. The joys of pastoring are so powerful that I’ll take the risk of these pains any day.
I am so grateful for a church that has let me ‘grow up’ as we’ve grown up. I have made so many leadership mistakes and the little church I serve has loved me through them. I am grateful for the countless gentle words of encouragement. I’m grateful for the partnership found in countless acts of sacrifice that has built our faith community.
Yes, there has been pain, deep pain at times. But the joy that God has given overshadows everything. Simple joy from seeing God at work in big and small ways. Joy from knowing that God has allowed me to play a role, even a slight role in some of it.
And I’d like to remind you of the same thing. That following God’s call into Kingdom Building often comes with hurt and disappointment. People will let you down. Your church will let you down. It’ll seem that God hasn’t come through for you or maybe you’ll wake up one day thinking you heard His call all wrong and you’re the wrong man or woman for the job. You’ll think it’s easier if somebody else does the work of God.
Let me tell you friends, it’s worth it. The joy of knowing that you are quietly answering the call of God overshadows the pain. Trust Him. Keep praying. Keep reaching. Keep serving. Keep building His Kingdom.
Here’s how Paul, the great Kingdom Builder, once said it.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2nd Corinthians 4:17.
Paul knew trouble. Boy did he know the pain of ministry. But he also knew an eternal glory that made it all worth it.
I’d like to think that Lynette and I have made a small difference in the lives of the thousands that call Metro their church home. I can truthfully say you have made a difference in our lives. And I’m guessing that you too have made a difference in your world!