Greatest Frustrations of Pastoring

Yesterday, I posted some findings of a survey my Southeastern Seminary class completed recently. My students interviewed pastors who had served for more than ten years in ministry. Yesterday’s post dealt with their greatest joys; today’s post summarizes their greatest frustrations in ministry.

  1. Watching people reject the gospel. Because they so believe in the power of the gospel, these pastors grieve when people hear it but don’t follow it. It seems this frustration is an ongoing one.
  2. Knowing they themselves are sinners. This finding surprised me. All of us know we’re sinners, but I did not expect pastors to be so open to see themselves as one of their greatest frustrations. These leaders know how much their own walk with God matters.
  3. Seeing apathy in the pew. Pastors work hard, and they strive to encourage and challenge – but still, some folks remain apathetic about the work of God. That’s frustrating.
  4. Encountering resistance to change. Few pastors I know want to change something simply for the purpose of change; instead, they have well thought-out reasons—and hitting resistance is hard.
  5. Elevating other things above the gospel. Those “other things” might include traditionalism, personal preferences, power positions, political debates, etc. It seems that some church members get passionate about things other than Jesus.
  6. Not having leaders behind them. Few things are as frustrating as standing up for something, only to find out that those on your team don’t stand behind you when confronted. That’s a lonely position.
  7. Not knowing how or when to disciple. These pastors know they need to invest in others, but finding time and a strategy is seldom easy. Knowledge of what to do + inability to figure out how = frustration.
  8. Having people in the church. This response is only partially sarcastic. People are both a joy and a frustration for pastors. They’re still the church, though, so these pastors are figuring out how to get it done.

On Monday, we’ll look at two more findings from this survey. Stay tuned!

And, pastors, what are your greatest frustrations? 

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