Somehow I’ve ended up on the Reader’s Digest enews list, which means every few weeks I get links to articles like “13 Things Your Pizza Guy Won’t Tell You.”
All good ideas begin with ripping off someone else, and it struck me that a blog post (or two) on “Things your pastor wishes you knew” might be interesting and helpful. But since I’m not a minister or church staffer myself, I didn’t know what needed to top this list.
So I asked about two dozen pastors what they wish the people in their church knew. Here are some of their answers. We’ll have part two (including a few more positive ones!) next week.
We’re under a lot of pressure.
Not surprisingly, many of them noted the heavy demands on both the pastor and his family and the unrelenting stress that comes with leadership of a church, no matter what the size.
Your pastor frequently feels like quitting. Check out the CNN Money article on 15 “stressful jobs that pay badly”—music minister was #5 and Pastor came in at #10. 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged, and 50% would leave the ministry if they could.
I am more insecure than most people think. Sunday afternoons are mentally and emotionally exhausting as I wonder if the teaching was clear, if the right decisions were made, and if people felt loved. When Paul said to the Corinthians that he came to them in weakness and fear, that’s because prior to starting that church in Acts 18 he got laughed out of Athens in chapter 17.
When my office door is closed and no one’s around I often feel confused about what’s next. I often feel like if God doesn’t show up, we’re in trouble, because I don’t know what to do next.
Sometimes we have to choose between you and our family. Sometimes we choose you, sometimes we choose family.
Sunday morning is not a good time to tell me anything (unless it’s how good the sermon was).
Everyone has expectations for pastors and everyone amazingly somehow knows God’s will for their pastor’s life and for the church.
We’re people, not just pastors.
Sometimes our family gets weary of sharing mom/dad with everyone at the ball game, the restaurant, or even the church potluck.
A call to ministry shouldn’t necessarily be equated with a call to poverty.
I’m an ordinary human being. I like being treated that way. No, I’m not a super-spiritual hero.
We need real friends, not just people who call us pastor.
I use my formal education about the same way you do. It was valuable for how to think, but do you still remember that chapter in your child development or civil engineering textbook? Me neither.
Sometimes the reason I don’t care for you isn’t because I don’t want to, or I don’t care about you, but because I am out of time or exhausted.
Sharing your weakness increases my respect for you (and everyone else’s, too). Pretending you have it all together means I will not trust you.
I am a sojourner on the same path, not another category of human.
I have sex with my spouse.
People complain about the volume of the music, what I’m wearing, the temperature of the room, that you didn’t visit them in the hospital, that you don’t read from the right version of the Bible, that you’re not deep enough (even though they don’t know the names of their neighbors), that you’re too deep, that I’m not in the lobby enough, that while I’m in the lobby I didn’t say hi to them, that I didn’t remember their name even though I’ve only met them once and we’ve never hung out and I have 1,000 other names to know.
Ministry can be an incredibly lonely role and pastors need at least two words of encouragement for every criticism or suggestion of how things should change. Same goes for ministry spouses and kids.
People complain to me about other areas of ministry, and even if I handle this well and direct them to the appropriate staff member, it still creates a burden for me to carry.
We work hard all week, not just Sundays.
I love it when people say, “Pastor, this isn’t personal, but……”
Pastors, what else would you add? Everyone else, does anything here surprise you?