10 Situations that Make Pastors Cry

Over the years, I’ve spent many hours with pastors. Not every pastor cries, but I’ve paid attention when pastors weep. Based on anecdotal evidence, here are some things that make pastors cry:

  1. When faithful church members die. We know the truth of heaven, but we still grieve when loving supporters die. It’s just different than the way the world grieves.
  2. When our family grieves a move. Many of us know what it’s like to have made a ministry move, but then to feel like the move’s harmed our family.
  3. When people for whom we’ve prayed for years become believers. Those folks become trophies of grace and encouragements to keep praying.
  4. When we say good-bye to a church we love. God moves our ministry location as He wishes, but trusting Him doesn’t always alleviate the pain of departure. Our heart breaks even when we’re in the will of God.
  5. When the church we lead falls apart. Few of us default into carrying full responsibility for a church mess, but most pastors I know ache deeply when decline marks their ministry.
  6. When a church member wanders deeply into sin. In fact, sometimes we weep over the sins of others more than they themselves do (for more on this idea, see this post).
  7. When the congregation remembers Pastor Appreciation Month and loves on their pastor and family. A church out-of-control can make a pastor weep, but so can an established, faithful church who just loves their pastor and his family. Everybody likes to be appreciated.
  8. When God overwhelms us as we baptize a new believer. It doesn’t always happen that way, but sometimes the joy is too much to contain.
  9. When God deeply burdens us as we share the Lord’s Supper with others. It’s tough to lead a church to genuinely look at the cross without our own hearts breaking over Christ’s shed blood.
  10. When an apparent non-believer only rejects the gospel. Because we believe in eternal judgment, it’s agonizing to watch a heart become increasingly hardened.

What makes you cry, pastor?


  • John W Carlton says:

    I have had many tearful moments in and out of the pulpit. Good times and bad have brought the tears. I love the happy tears, but the sad ones break my heart such as having a friend reject the Gospel. Thank you for sharing these today.

  • Brian K. Smith says:

    Baptizing a new believer who had been resistant to the gospel for decades and then doing her funeral less than a month later. Many tears in celebration, then grief and mourning, then more celebration.

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