I make no claim that pastors are perfect people. We mess up. We can be arrogant and uncaring at times. At the same time, though, most pastors I know are genuine, faithful followers of God who love their congregations. They’ve learned, too, that the work of pastoral ministry often carries heartache with it. Here are some of those aches:
- We mourn when marriages fall apart. We usually hear both sides of the story, and we’re privy to both anguish and sin. Often, we’ve seen the pain that divorce can cause.
- We hurt when young people make decisions that lead to trouble. None of us wants our church young people to go down paths that could lead to long-term difficulty. Nor can we always stop it, however.
- We occasionally beat ourselves up when our sermon wasn’t nearly as strong as we thought it would be. We’re usually our own worst critics. And, some of us will think for days about how we could have done better.
- We sometimes grieve the sin of others more than they do. We know we can’t bring them to repentance on our own, and it’s agonizing to watch them continue toward destruction.
- We ache when our church must carry out church discipline. In all my years of ministry, few situations were as painful as removing a church member who chose to ignore our attempts at guidance and reconciliation. It felt like I had failed in reaching him as his pastor.
- We struggle when the churches we lead aren’t growing. I realize that we can become idolatrous of numbers, but most pastors I know aren’t comfortable when the churches they lead are not reaching people.
- We sometimes hurt alone when we see the loneliness and struggles of our families. I’m casting blame on no one here; I’m simply making the point that some pastoral families struggle under the weight of the task—and we keep that struggle to ourselves.
- We quietly grieve funerals for persons who showed no evidence of Christian conversion. We have to lead in those situations, but the tears sometimes come in the quiet rooms of our lives.
- We wrestle with loneliness when we don’t know how to develop strong friendships. Frankly, I think this problem is more often our issue than our congregation’s issue, but it nevertheless can lead to aloneness.
- We often feel guilty even expressing any of these thoughts. Maybe I’m the only pastor who’s ever felt these things, but I doubt it—so I use this post to ask for prayer on behalf of all my pastoral colleagues.
Say a prayer for your pastors this weekend.