Last week Karla and I were with a group of pastors that we meet with every year for encouragement and discussions. This week, I’ve been in Kansas City for an every-four-year evangelism conference attended mostly by pastors. In other words, I’ve been with a lot of pastors lately.
I like pastors. They are usually nice people. For the most part, they have committed themselves to work of the Lord. They love Jesus and people and that is always a good combo. Having said that, here are a few other things about pastors that you should know:
1) Pastors aren’t perfect. I know you know this (theoretically) but you may need to know it practically too. For example, since pastors aren’t perfect they will make mistakes (just like you). They may have good motives and still make a decision they later regret. This doesn’t make them evil or horrible, it makes them human. Just like you.
2) Pastors aren’t robots. They have feelings. Pastors take it personally when folks leave their church. Rejection is never easy and when people leave, it hurts. When church people gossip or worse, it’s upsetting. One pastor friend described how he received death threats over a decision he made (I’m serious). He turned a stack of threatening anonymous letters into the police. They never determined who was sending the letters. He left the church. The letters kept coming. Weird. Another pastor (and church) hired a body guard because of threats from a church attender. Crazy. Frightening. The Bible says to trust in the Lord in the face of such circumstances, but that’s easier said than done. Pastors are human too.
3) Pastors aren’t islands. They have family issues too. One pastor friend returned from our meetings to a death in the family; another one’s father wandered off this week and tough decisions need to be made about his dad’s care; some pastors admitted to marriage troubles; others have prodigal kids who are making horrible decisions; and still others have major health issues going on that will affect their ministry going forward. They are worried. They probably shouldn’t worry but pastors (there is a common thread working here) are human too.
When everything is humming along nicely: The Spirit is moving; congregants are loving Jesus and loving others; life is good and everything is going great, then pastoring is a great gig. But when the Enemy attacks, when life happens, when people aren’t kind, then pastoring can be tough and lonely.
I write this not to make you feel sorry for me or any other pastor you know, but to remind you to pray for your pastors. Encourage them. Be part of the solution not a problem. In my son’s house, there is a message board on the wall that applies here. It says: Be a fountain, not a drain. It’s the same message of Hebrews 13:12 that says: Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority… so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
The best pastors benefit everyone. The best pastors are the ones who joyfully know that his/her congregation is seeking Jesus, that they are lifting him/her up to the Lord on a regular basis, and their church is becoming more and more the holy people of God.