I remember the excitement I felt when I started pastoring my first church. In no way could I have adequately explained the zeal of my calling. Too often, though, pastors start out like I did and then quickly lose their passion for the ministry task.
My work with pastors has shown at least these causes that rob them of their zeal:
- Unexpected trouble in the church. In too many cases, the pastor search team didn’t tell potential pastors the “full story” – and those pastors learned the hard way about long-term issues in the church.
- Hard soil in the community. Nobody wants to hear the gospel, it seems. These pastors face rejection so much that it almost feels like they’re on the mission field among a hardened people group.
- Financial struggles in the home. The pastor moved his family in faith, trusting God to meet all their needs – but the salary package doesn’t match the cost of living in the area. Faith quickly becomes a battle.
- Loneliness in the family. Pastors are out among the people, often celebrated as the “preacher” while family members are lonely behind the scenes. Adjusting to a new location is more difficult than anyone dreamed.
- Immediate opposition within the congregation. The same people who’ve opposed every other pastor start on the new leader before he gets his feet on the ground. Discouragement then sets in.
- Struggles with inherited staff. It’s seldom easy to come in from the outside as the new leader of long-term staff members. Everybody hopes the relationships will be strong, but healthy connections don’t always develop.
- Concerns about their own preaching. Few people are as critical about a pastor’s preaching as the pastor himself is. We strive for excellence, but don’t always get there – and a few perceived “flops” can drain us.
- A lack of numerical growth. Most pastors I know want to see lives changed and their congregations increase. When we accept a calling to a church, we long for that to happen. If it doesn’t, we take that “failure” personally.
- Private sin in their own life. Some pastors carry their personal sin from church to church to church. Eventually, the hidden part of their lives drains them under the weight of disobedience.
If you’ve lost your passion for ministry, I encourage you to read this blog as well. My prayers are with you.