Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Secret Pain of Pastors

September 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

The Secret Pain of Pastors

Philip Wagner offers insight into the six major struggles pastors face in the ministry and how to overcome them.

 

Peter Drucker, the late leadership guru, said that the four hardest jobs in America (and not necessarily in order, he added) are:

  • The President of the United States
  • A university president
  • A CEO of a hospital and
  • A pastor

Is that true? Pastors love God and love people. They get to pray for people, lead people to a faith in Jesus Christ, and teach the Word about God.

That’s the dream job. You can read the Bible all day, pray, play a little golf and preach. I want to do that!

Here is the secret. Being a pastor is hard work. It’s not for wimps.

This is the reality—the job of a pastor can be 24/7 and carry unique challenges.

Some pastors wear themselves out trying to help people. Some wound their families because they are so involved in ministry. Others flourish in their ministry and personal life.

Approximately 85 percent of churches in America have less than 200 people. Sixty percent of churches are under 100 people. The average size congregation in the U.S. is 89 people, according to The Barna Group. Staffs are small, and needs are great. In many situations, the pastor needs to be a Bible teacher, accountant, strategist, visionary, computer tech, counselor, public speaker, worship director, prayer warrior, mentor, leadership trainer and fundraiser.

Who can be all of that?

  • Ninety percent of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they
    thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
  • Seventy percent say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.

Personally, I love being a pastor. I have a great staff. We have great people in our church. I am content whether going through good times or difficult seasons. Of course, it’s a lot easier to be “content” when things are good. I have great friends who are pastors. My marriage is strong. I am a better man because of my time in ministry.

Some of the unique problems that pastors face are:

1. Criticism 

Pastors can be criticized by a lot of people for a multitude of things.

“Music is too loud. Worship is not long enough. It’s too long.”

“Sermon is not deep enough. It’s too long.” 

“Pastor thinks he’s too important. It took me three weeks to get an appointment.”

“You talk too much about money.”

“Can I talk to you for a minute, Pastor?” This simple question can cause a pastor to think: “Oy vey. Now what?”

We pastors need to find a way to not take criticism so personally and learn from truths that could be hidden in the criticism.

2. Rejection

Members leave, leaders leave and pastors’ friends leave. The reality is—people leave.

The smaller the church, the more obvious it is when people leave. Some leave for reasonable decisions; many leave ‘ungracefully.’ They leave the big churches, too—by the thousands.

People leave T.D. Jakes’ church, and they leave Andy Stanley’s church.

When our church had about 150 people and some would leave, it was so disappointing. I tried to console myself by thinking, “They may be leaving by the dozens here at Oasis, but thousands have left Jack Hayford’s church, and he’s a great pastor.” … That only helped for a minute.

“I’m leaving.”

“We want something deeper.”

“My needs aren’t getting met.”

These comments can feel like a personal rejection.

Every pastor has heard, “I’m not getting fed here.” Bill Hybels has heard it. Wayne Cordero, Dino Rizzo, Ed Young, Craig Groeschel, Steven Furtick and Matthew Barnett have heard it.

Really? Not getting fed? In those churches? How is that possible?

One of the most difficult conditions to achieve is to have a “tough skin and a soft heart.” Love people, hold them lightly and don’t take it personally.

“Uhhh, OK. Lord, help us.”

3. Betrayal

Trusting church members with personal burdens can backfire. They may end up telling the pastor’s personal issues to others. Staff leaders can take church members away. The pastor trusts a person with the platform or title, and that person uses the influence given to them to take people away. The Judas kiss.

Church staff causing problems is a betrayal. Pastors rightfully think, “I’m paying you to solve problems. I can get new problems for free. I don’t need to pay someone a salary to create them.”

  • Forty  percent report a conflict with a church member at least once a month.
  • Eighty five percent of pastors said their greatest problem is they are tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members and associate pastors.
  • The #1 reason pastors leave the ministry is that church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction, but the people are not willing to follow or change.
  • Forty percent of pastors say they have considered leaving their pastorates in the last three months.

We pastors have to find a way, with God’s grace, to love people as if we have never been hurt before.

4. Loneliness

Who’s my friend? Who can I trust? If I tell another pastor my problems, will he criticize me, tell others or just treat me differently?

  • Seventy percent do not have someone they consider a close friend.

Are my friends really my friends or a church member who is a temporary friend who may leave any day now?

Healthy friendships are crucial to a fulfilling life, especially to the wellbeing of a pastor. Put special effort in this area.

Read more here: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/167379-philip-wagner-secret-pain-of-pastors.html?p=4

Philip Wagner is Lead Pastor of Oasis Church in Los Angeles and founder of Generositywater.org. Oasis is an innovative and racially diverse church, largely comprised of people in their 20’s & 30’s. Oasis is known for its local and global outreach to the impoverished; especially orphans and widows, and funding clean water projects. Philip and his wife, Holly, started Oasis in 1984, in Beverly Hills with10 people. Today they’ve grown to 3000+ members.

More from Philip Wagner or visit Philip at www.philipwagner.com/blog/

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