7 Raw Truths from a Recovering Pastor

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Hard-earned experience from the frontlines of church ministry.

From 1997-2011, I served three different churches in some pastoral or ministry role—including three-plus years as Senior Pastor of Courageous Church in Atlanta. It chewed me up and spit me out. I’ve written about most of the highs and lows on my blog.  

All things considered, I still love and believe in the church.

I admit, though, I now only attend church occasionally, speak at churches rarely and am still recovering and struggling to find my way in the contemporary church. I’m wide open to the possibility that the problem is me.  

This is not a post on how the church is ugly and I’m not.  

I have a few rather random thoughts on the church that I want to share. While they do come from my own personal experiences, they each could transfer to your context.

1. Too few people care about the mental and emotional health of pastors.  

If you attend a church, I am almost 100 percent sure you have a pastor dealing with more stress than you can imagine.  

People dump all of their secrets and troubles on pastors and daily come to them with gut-wrenching requests for money, support, advice and much more. I bailed people out of jail, saw couples through physical abuse, listened to secrets of molestation, served as a surrogate dad to fatherless children, wrote checks for bills that folk couldn’t pay AND still had to oversee the daily grind of running and managing the church.  

When I got very stressed myself, I got the feeling that very few people cared—particularly the members of the church. Even my “coaches” had little to say other than “hang in there.”

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2. Very few pastors get paid too much money.  

I worked 60-plus hours per week. The job rarely had an off switch for me.  

For most of the time I was pastoring Courageous Church, I made between $40,000-$60,000, including health insurance and travel costs, etc. However, somebody was always around to make me feel like I made too much money. Nobody hates the idea of a pastor driving a Bentley and living in excess more than me, but very few pastors are living this life. Most of them are struggling just to make it from month to month.  

You should read the book Uncharitable, on how people who do good get paid too little and are often made to feel like crap for the little they make.

3. Pastors who advocate innovation and new models of ministry are very lonely.  

I could say more here, but I just really want the point to be known.

Shaun King A techie-humanitarian, Shaun King is widely regarded as one of today’s leading voices on how social media and a little bit of courage can make our world a radically better place. He speaks a message of hope and action over 150 times a year, has appeared in dozens of national press outlets, and is the founder of TwitChange, aHomeInHaiti, and Courageous Church in Atlanta, GA.

More from Shaun King or visit Shaun at http://www.shauninthecity.com/

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  • amos8

    Shaun, I appreciate your honesty and efforts here, but I’m not sure how anyone should take you seriously as a “Christian Leader” (however we define that these days) unless you address your egregious actions and words and public, verbal assault:

    “@PastorMark kiss my Christian *** for saying that. How dare you pass such an ugly judgment on him…”

    “(You) are the most ugly, harsh & judgmental excuse (for) a Christian I know..”

    Perhaps you already cleared this up and I missed it.

    Can anyone else explain this for me?

    • http://www.ShaunInTheCity.com/ Shaun King

      Hi. This is Shaun. I don’t care if you take me seriously as a Christian leader. I apologized publicly for losing my cool. I regret saying motherfuckers on Twitter but my anger was and still is real. My word choice was poor but I meant everything I said and stand by it.

      • amos8

        Well, I’m glad you publicly apologized–that is good–but I just have not seen it. Can you send a link, or reference?

        “I regret saying m***F****s on Twitter but my anger was and still is real.”

        Really? Did you have to spell it out?

        I’m sure your anger was and still is real, but I’m not sure what your point is about that.

        I know you stated that you don’t care if I (or anyone else) talks you seriously as a Christian leader–but my point is not necessarily about whether you care or not–but why then write an article or try to “lead” Christians?

        BTW, I forgot to mention in my first comment that I am truly sorry for what you have gone through in your experiences listed above. As you at least alluded to, many of use have, yet I hope that this does not discourage you or taint you toward others.

        • http://twitter.com/ShaunKing Shaun King

          I wrote this blog many months ago on my own personal blog.

          • Jamie

            I would encourage you to take a social media break, get off the radar, and give this anger to God. You are obviously called and the enemy wants nothing but to kill, steal, and destroy you. He is seemingly doing a decent job of it. I’m surprised that this website would allow you to spell out your curse words. Listen, we ALL feel your pain to some degree or another but I just would encourage you to take a break and simply be still in His presence. I’m sure it’s the advice that you would give if the tables were turned.

          • Trevor

            At the moment there is no ‘obviously’ about it. Biblical qualifications for leaders?

        • http://twitter.com/shauggy Matthew Shaughnessy

          I don’t know if he apologized anywhere else, but he did apologize on Twitter. And FWIW I don’t think he needs to apologize for anything else he said, his comments on Driscoll pretty much amounted to calling a spade a spade.

          (BTW down here in the south calling someone “ugly” doesn’t mean their looks, it means you’re saying that person was acting unpleasantly. So it may have sounded like a personal attack but I don’t think he meant it that way…not sure, that’s just my opinion)

          • amos8

            “And FWIW I don’t think he needs to apologize for anything else he said,
            his comments on Driscoll pretty much amounted to calling a spade a
            spade.”[okay, it took me a little while to figure out FWIW]

            By that understanding, MD (or his proponents) could/would also make the same argument for what MD said. I don’t like what MD did, and I have a real hard time with MD, but there were some huge problems here (not just in what Shaun said/did, but in how many others responded).

            I think there has been a colossal dumbing-down of discernment to the point that many/most Christians cannot discern, nor can the see obvious problems … like how many judged, let alone viciously judged and condemned MD … all while condemning “judging”! Furthermore, when this was pointed out the refused to acknowledge the obvious … and went on the attack.

        • Trevor

          Amos8, hit the nail on the head. Don’t write articles trying to lead others when even here you use such language. You want to influence (lead) people and you use language like that here?! Check your fruit buddy, its not good. I’ll leave it to you to think about the nature of the root its coming from. Being sinned against doesn’t give you any special privellege to then sin against others. None what so ever. You put yourself in a dangerous position.

      • Ryan

        Hi Shaun. I completely understand you. When I up and decided I would not go back to church, I vented for a year, on another site, rip-tore the church to shreads. I had gone to church since a child for over 40 years and that kind of sudden change has its affects. It takes time for the mind to calm. I inadvertently burned a couple bridges in the process. Time may not heal all wounds but does mellow things. After 3 years away, I thinking I may be getting to a point I could return without dragging a ton of negativity with me. I’m waiting on the Lord for this. Keep praying and reading God’s word. Both are important. It’s great having the promise that God never leaves us and from Jonah, we can’t run from God.

      • D-man

        Dude, cool your words. You don’t need to repost obscenities and spell them out. Be mature bro.

    • Dalia

      Huh?

      • amos8

        What part did you not understand?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Maikzone Michael Bell

    Shaun you have gained great insight by being outside of the ministry because it has allowed you to see it from the outside in perspective rather than the other way. The reality is: you can activate your priesthood in a completely different way and God will use you. God bless your future ministry and rejoice in what is transpiring.You don’t need a man-made structure to give you ministry,

    • samuel nkansah

      owww, i luv this last piece by Bell. God bless u.

    • Don

      Very true. I stepped out of the pastorate years ago and joined a fellowship that chose not to have a ‘pastor’. Several of the men took the responsibility of ministry of the word under the leadership of of an eldership. (Not Brethren) It was refreshing to minister and have time to be ministered to. There are still people problems, but that is part of being a fellowship. You also don’t get the recognition of being the #1 guy.
      Shaun, allow The Lord to do His healing in you and through you. Michael is right in his encouragement.

  • Santosh

    Pastoral role is an anointed role to serve God amidst challenges from within and outside niches of its work environment. God takes control of all circumstances of a God fearing pastor who leads his/her congregation. The members of the church have the responsibility to support their pastor under all circumstances.

  • Al

    Shaun, thanks so much for sharing. I am pastoring… And agree with EVERY point. I am leading… But “leadership” is usually trying to get in the way… And quite willing to sell me out for a fast coffee with a gossiping buddy.

  • Al

    And by the way… Church is NOT a man made structure. Thanks anyway Michael

    • http://www.facebook.com/Maikzone Michael Bell

      Al, I didn’t say Church in my comment, but you picked up my context correctly; congratulations. The Church: as in ἐκκλησία- ekklesia, meaning the called-out-ones, is definitely not a man-made structure; unfortunately the Called-out-ones or Redeemed-ones fellowship in buildings, institutions, and organizations that are man-made structures. The Roman Catholic Church and Byzantine/Orthodox Church are the Mothers of all examples of human structures, followed thereafter by Protestant structures.
      Al, you are a Pastor: haven’t you read where Rebecca, a type of the church, was transported to the Promised-Land on a Camel? But the camel is an unclean beast.
      I say that we Pastors and leaders of church structures are guilty of speaking with the voice of Jacob yet at the same time employ the garments and hands of Esau; and like Rebecca we employ an unclean vehicle to get us to the promised-Land. Fortunately it is the Holy Spirit that baptizes(immerses) us into the Body of Christ and not humans.

  • dewisant

    An interesting insight, as a Pastor I was mobbed and my contract cancelled without notice, so I can appreciate your disillusionment or feeling of disorientation about finding your way back into church life in General. I don’t know you personally, but we both know Jesus, so I can ask Him to bless you and restore to you what was chewed off, and to refocus what got a bit lost in the process, as I pray for myself too

  • Geoff

    Spot on Shaun. My childern walked away from church because of the pain they witnessed that was inflicted upon my wife and me by members of a church I was pastoring.

  • David Ajala

    I think the focus needs to be more on Christ and our relationship with Him, and surrender to His will. While many good points are made in the article, I think it can result in a way down a dangerous slope. Regarding Michael Bell’s comment, you’re right Church is a man-made structure–but the fact is the Man Christ Jesus formed it. So to say God can activate priesthood etc is also dangerous. Just because we have a bad experience with one church, or even family of churches (ie a fellowship) does not mean we label the Church of Jesus Christ at large as some institution that gave us blows and black eyes. Careful guys.

    • http://twitter.com/ShaunKing Shaun King

      I hear you David.

  • http://twitter.com/Andrea_B_Perrin Andrea Perrin

    Thank you Shaun for such a thoughtful article. My husband and I have seen first hand some appalling treatment various pastors have received over the years, and it has taken us a long time to commit to the call God has for us both. I hope you are coming to a place Shaun where you can add a section on spiritual warfare/weapons formed against pastors and the need for a prayer backing for pastors/leaders to this article. Thanks to your article I’m more aware and hoping my eyes are open. God’s mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness.

  • Imolorhe Andrew

    It takes courage to speak out like this. My counsel however is that when you trust a man, you get disgusted. Put your whole trust in the God that called you and you will fly above these challenges. Sometimes God allows these types of circumstances to happen so He can mold you for greater cases. This way you get matured for His calling. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Courage brother.

    • Dalia

      Mr. Andrew, you’re an encourager. A modern day Barnabas. Your words. I bet, bring a little comfort to Shawn

  • Ingus

    I am not from US. Pastors also need to be in fellowship with each other. They need to find out fellowship, but not competitors. My friend is from different church district and in highest position in the district. No competition, but fellowship in Holy Spirit. I live in a country where people also do the same except they never pay enough for ministry. I am content with 12000usd per year I can pay all bills except medicine and insurance. My wife works not for church, she has 4800 per year. We know that there is no brilliant future with such finances, but I seek joy in Christ’s love, I am in battle every day with sin, devil and world, I remember that only thing I deserve in my life is hell. I have trust that Saviour will give me gift I do not deserve. I do not hope in retairment. Perhaps I cannot understand US way of life, but we can be content without houses, cars, vocation travels and even without satisfaction in job. Jesus Christ in you that is important. Then we belong to him. I feel right to comment, because I lived in the same condition of mind. God lead me through it even without any financial emprovement. God’s grace to all!

    • Dalia

      Ingus, america is extremely materialistic. It has seeped into our churches. You have a great attitude and understand that riches are not promised here on earth, but the eternal blessings are astronomical. America pastors are about numbers, that is why churches are near empty, except the ones with loud music, strobe lights, and big screens to make sure the pastor’s face could be seen instead of God’s through the messages. Sad state, America is. God has provided for you and your wife, and always will. We NEED more like you!

    • Trevor

      Ingus you are a refeshing and all too lone voice. You have it exactly right. If you know you deserve nothing and that when you have done everything you are at best an ‘unprofitable’ servant – then you are not offended by just about anything and your not going to whine about your ‘rights’ or about being mistreated. Who do we think we are?! Yes ministry hurts, not more than it hurt Jesus and not more than is actually promised and described in the Bible. I sometimes minister in parts of the majortity (3rd world) who would laugh with disbelief at our consumerism and self protection and offense taken in ministry in the west.

      I am not unsympathetic, I have my own scars (including a breakdown, being lied about, being abandoned in a desperate hour of need…) as a pastor – but nothing compared to the scars of the one who called me to follow Him. In the light of eternity, its light and momentary affliction. Of course get help, and challenge bad behaviour whenever you can etc, but bottom line —- what did you expect?

  • Rev D.A.Deppisch

    Shaun– sorry you’re disillusioned– and having read that 1700 pastors leave the church each month (or are forced out) I wonder why I am at my advanced age so keen on being called to pastor. All I know is that Christ suffered more than I ever will for doing the Father’s will– so did Paul and all the apostles. So do many who pastor churches big and small. Unless my congregation literally nails me to a cross i can work through any persecution that comes with the calling.

    That being said– perhaps my life experience has taught me that churches are full of imperfect people and to pray for them, guide them, listen to them– and then use scripture where reproof is also necessary. Too many pastors are afraid to tell their sheep that they need to stop sinning and start living victoriously. We are to dole out love and the word of God and not be some psychological garbage can for nonspiritual Christians to dump their messes in time after time.
    More pastors need to grow a spine and lovingly confront those who would “tare” up the church of Jesus Christ!

    • Trevor Allin

      Wise words my friend. No room for a ‘victim’ mentality in the pastorate. Its a call to carry your cross, follow Christ and lead others (not follow).

      • Mark

        Friends:

        Let’s not de-value or de-legitimize our brother’s experience simply because it is different than yours or mine. Pastors are leaving the pulpit in droves and with all due respect, the approach of ‘suck it up buttercup’ and ‘if there’s a problem in your church, you’re the problem’ is really not helping. Wounding someone who is already wounded is not the solution, nor, would I suggest with as much gentleness as I can, is it an appropriate, pastoral response.

        We have a problem in the world of the clergy and church … and its complex. If we didn’t have a problem, we wouldn’t have a shortage of pastors caused by resignations, break-downs, and burn out.

        I wonder how Christ would respond to our brother Shaun? Would Christ say, “your a victim” to one who is wounded? Would he compare Himself to Shaun and say, “I can suffer more than you.” Really? Is this where we’re at?

        • http://www.facebook.com/philmichaels Phil Michaels

          Very, very well said Mark. Thank you for being a voice of reason and compassion in what is often a sea-full of negativity, emotionally charged ‘dialogue’, and Americanized Church-ianity.

        • Trevor

          Mark, I do agree. My comments are not meant to be dispassionate towards those in full time ministry. As a pastor I have been through gut wrenching times and can fully sympathise. However, there is a difference between helping a pastor who is struggling and someone who wants to influence others, having been through it. If you read the comments below, this guy is in the latter category and off base. The danger then is that he legitimises wrong attitudes in pastors who are suffering. A victim mentality and bitterness are not helfpful for anyone in any walk of life. The things that have helped me in very real struggles have been:

          1. Right expectations about ministry based on the cross and the teaching of the New Testament.

          2. Seeking a right understanding of my role as a leader, and who I am

          ultimately accountable to, and what He expects of me.

          3. Gently but firmly dealing with sinful attitudes in church life as discipline issues, for the sake of the people involved and the church as a whole.

          4. Be ‘ruthlessly’ gospel centred!

          5. Sticking to the Lord like glue!

          6. Pursuing friendships.

          I am not in the US and so some of this may be me not understanding that culture. But I think these principles are the same wherever you are.

      • Mike

        Is that really what you got from this article brother? That, our brother, who is in pain, was portraying himself as a victim? Please, reread with an open mind. The church can be a grist mill. On this there is no dispute. You can take up your cross everyday and still be tripped up. Every honest leader will attest to this fact.. More often than not you will find the one tripping you up is another brother or sister.

        I’m truly glad that our heavenly Father has seen fit to make your path in ministry so smooth and trouble free. However, for many of us this has not the case. It’s a big world out there. With many churches and leaderships and personalities and issues of which you are not aware. It is a wise man who listens and learns from the experiences of another. Not all he has to say may be applicable to you now or later. But it is to someone. Narrow mindedness will get you nowhere. Oh and yes there is plenty of room for those with the “victim” mentality in the pastorate. Papa calls who he calls, victims and victimizers alike. We are all imperfect and in need of correction in Christ. I have yet to meet the perfect pastor. I assume the reason for this is that we are all being shaped and molded and made as we go. At least, that is if we are willing to be shaped and molded and made. Grace and peace brother.

        • Trevor

          Thanks Mark but what you assume that I am assuming, you also assume about me :-) I have been a pastor for a number of years, none of which have been easy. I have experienced much pain and have had a breakdown that took me out of ministry for 2 years, then to return. I have my share of scars, and certainly walk with a limp.

          When I say there is no room in ministry for a victim mentality, I mean you will die if you have one – you will not cope. You will fall and not get up again, you will end up leaving the ministry. Realistic expectations are very necessary.

  • Jamie

    Wow! talk about a whiner! I wish I made between 40-60k with health insurance. I barely make above 30 and pay my own health insurance. I work two side jobs on top of my youth/associate/children’s pastor duties to help make ends meet. My wife lost her teaching job just before the start of this school year and continues to look for work. Gimme a break! You sound like a bitter, looking for sympathy, jaded, former pastor.

    • Dalia

      Jamie, you’re the whiner, and having to list your little setbacks. Poor you. Can’t a person share his soul without your type of bitter attitude. You probably demand your wife pull herself up by her bra straps and push her out the door, telling her to quit your yapping and get a J O B. you’re a sad case.

      • Jamie

        I shared my “raw” thoughts here and you know NOTHING about me. His article, to me, came across whiny and if you don’t like it or if Shaun has an issue with it then don’t post here. What I posted was not whining but rather putting things into perspective from his OP. And I have seen others post similar responses to Shaun but I’m sure you are trolling around defending Shaun. By the way, if you look above you will see a more softer approach in a response that I gave Shaun. So, why is it wrong for me to share my raw feelings about this article and it was ok to share his? Double standard Dalia!!

        • Dalia

          And why can’t I express my raw feelings concerning you? Or are you exempt? I thought you pastors were BUSY. You definitely aren’t. Work on some sermons, or something. You have a double standard. You come across all harsh to Shawn, and now you back peddle and say “I don’t know you, it’s hard to have a conversation via media.”. Do you always back down when confronted, or do you only stand firm only when it’s a woman? Bully.

          • Jamie

            Wow! You have issues. No one is backing down and I find it ironic that you yell at me for being harsh but yet your response to me was harsh. You jumped in with both fist swinging. My response was raw and if somehow you or anyone else pointed out my “fault” in doing so am I a lesser man to admit a mistake rather than be what you call a “bully.” Really? You make no sense to me. Again, double standard on your part. I do not back down when confronted but am man enough to admit if I was wrong. You don’t care? Neither do I.

    • http://twitter.com/ShaunKing Shaun King

      Funny bro. Why be so harsh? No sympathy needed here.

      • Jamie

        I will admit it was harsh but like you I wrote “raw.” My response was to put things into perspective. We ALL suffer in ministry but you listing your salary just irked me in light of our own difficulties (not whining Dalia!). And you have to expect some of these types of responses that you have received on this board. I’m not attempting to be insensitive to what you have been through and neither of us know each other so it’s hard to have good conversation via social media. I’m interpreting what you wrote in my own way as others have. No judgment here on my part but rather a challenge to see you get back in the game but only when you feel healthy enough to do it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/philmichaels Phil Michaels

          “No judgment here on my part” – an attempt at some twisted humor? Seriously?

          • Jamie

            Seriously? Yes and not “twisted humor.” If you read my comments earlier I apologized for my harsh tone but as evidence here you can’t please everyone.

  • Brandon

    The thing I don’t understand is that I don’t make any where’s near $40 000/year. I’m closer to half of that and am baffled that someone can complain about struggling from month to month on twice what I make.

    • Dalia

      Brandon, this is not your calling.

  • http://www.statestreetchurch.com/ Tom Peers

    3.5 years ago I resigned from pastoring because I became very depressed and lost all hope. In the 2-3 years prior to resigning I was an alcoholic but didn’t know it. I buzzed up on “Silver Bullets” for two reasons; I liked it and it numbed emotional pain. When I resigned (after 32 years of pastoring) it was because of alcoholism that I had to admit only when I bottomed out (“kissing concrete” as we say in recovery). I got into AA, got a sponsor, attended meetings regularly, vigorously engaged the spiritual disciplines, got some great spiritual mentors and came out of it. I’m doing really well and started pastoring again a little over a year ago after taking two full years off to get healthy. My root problem was fear (in other words … lack of trust in God). I know the things about which you speak and they are not talked about enough. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the issue. Thanks.

    • Dalia

      welcome back, Pastor Peers. God is always with us, and working in us. I am glad that you found the root of the problem! Hurray for you!

      • http://www.statestreetchurch.com/ Tom Peers

        Thanks!

    • amos8

      Wow, Tom, I’m so sorry to hear about what you went through. I pray you persevere in the truth and love. “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” [Also, it takes courage to share what you did. Thanks]

      • http://www.statestreetchurch.com/ Tom Peers

        Thanks – I appreciate that.

    • Dave Ekstrom

      Hooray for you! Ain’t God good!

  • Ben

    It breaks my heart to read this article and these responses. I have spent time, like many of you, on both sides of the pastoral fence and here is one thing that I have learned-we are in the business of waging war with an enemy. It is naive to assume that this enemy wouldn’t provoke attack from within the walls of our own camp. Additionally, our response to these war tactics are an insightful illustration of our belief in the scriptures. I would challenge you brothers, as you have called yourselves pastors, to spend some significant time in James and let the word teach, correct, rebuke and train in righteousness.

    • Ben

      Ben My name is Ben also is there any other name you could use. thank you.this confusion.

    • amos8

      Thanks Ben, can you elaborate your point a little?

  • http://www.facebook.com/larry.tindall.5 Larry Tindall

    Shaun – your experience and thoughts are so parallel to my own. After 20+ years in Sr Ministry roles, I “swore off church staffing forever” and began doing organizational and life-coaching with leaders. My vision has been to get organizations of all kinds (not just churches) to treasure and nurture their biggest resource – the human resource. Part of that was coaching churches to consider strategic planning toward true, team leadership, rather than top-down styles like Sr.Pastor or Co-Pastor models ( which tend to overload their leaders with duties they really aren’t even fit for, resulting in burn-out.) Consequently, I’ve now been invited to serve as Ministry Team Lead Pastor in a church of about 250, where we are building a team of part-time, bi-vocational leaders, each in their own area of giftedness (including one designated care-giver/overseer, since most of us are NOT gifted in care ministry.) None of us will serve more than 20 hours/week and there will be at least 3 different teaching pastors handling Sunday mornings throughout the year. So far it’s moving nicely w/o any of the typical stresses of the conventional models.
    Thanks for posting your thoughts. May your own reflections cause many to reconsider the conventional leadership models that have been beating up leaders for years!

  • Bro. Gene

    Shaun,

    Thanks for your article. My wife and I needed to hear these words. They were very healing for us. As some of the responses by some of the people on this blog show, our fellow ministers can be even worse to us than our fellow congregants. (For you guys who haven’t experienced the things Shaun mentions and chose to attack him instead of having your heart broken over his experiences, maybe its because you are too busy being relevant or compromising God’s Word to have Satan send his attacks against you.)

    My family and I have experienced all of the negativity that you mentioned and then some. The first church I pastored paid me $250/week. Out of that I had to pay my own utilities and buy the water when I baptized someone (this cost $35/baptism and we baptized 10 people that year). I preached 3 sermons/week (not counting the 10 funerals I handled that year), maintained the grounds including mowing an acre of grass and my own yard, lived in a parsonage that should have been condemned, yet every Sunday I had to hear how I was overpaid. At my second pastorate where I stayed 4.5 years, the church called me to be the senior pastor. Their first act as a church after I accepted the position was to lie to me and tell me that the salary they offered me to come was higher than they could afford so they cut my salary. Believing that God had called me there, my wife and I decided to stay and not argue even though we could see in the budget that the money was there. I walked into a HUGE mess that my DOM later apologized for not warning me about. In my first year I dealt with embezzlement, staff members who thought they were entitled to their jobs so they wouldn’t accept my leadership or even be friendly once I accepted the position, a man in lay leadership who was in his position because he had a PhD even though he denied the virgin birth – JC diety – JC resurrection from the dead – etc,, people who told me I was hateful for preaching from the Bible because hearing from it didn’t make them feel good, and the year ended with a major church fire. The first year was indicative of my whole time there except that I had deacons that openly admitted to praying against my sermons every Sunday while I was preaching. One positive that came out of that church during those years was seeing 71 people saved and baptized in spite of the lay leaderships best efforts against it.
    I say all this to add to what Shaun said. It is hard enough to be a pastor with all the things our churches throw at us. It is made even harder when our “fellow pastors in our community” and those who say they will mentor us fail to be true brothers in Christ. For me and my family the hardest thing to deal with is the loneliness. I started my time in ministry with 3 mentors who all abandoned me/my family for various reasons that amounted to them simply wanting to take the time or have a desire to help each another pastor. Most of the pastors in the 2 towns where I have pastored saw me as competition instead of a brother even though I “never went after their members” and encouraged their members to go back to the church where they came from when they showed up at my church.
    As ministers, we need to embrace and support each other instead of pointing fingers (yes I know I did that earlier) and calling names. We should also see each other as fellow laborers instead of competition.

  • Areil

    Sadly, this is a great article – sadly in the sense of it having to be experienced and written but it’s reality. I’ve ministered to many people as a pastor and counselor and have had many ‘sheep bites’ even from long time friends (one woman hit my temple and pulled out my hair even though we were friends for 25 years). I too have been on the other side and been the sheep that bit much to my chagrin. What’s the answer? Good question. I’m not sure except to stay close to God as cliched as that sounds. I’ve had many pastors throw Scripture verses at me and that certainly doesn’t work so I hesitate at saying ‘stay close to God’ – maybe take a vaction…Hawaii sounds great this time of year. (Feb in Onario, Canada is rather cold this year, lol). Keep a sense of humour, even if its a little dark. I lived in a crack-whorehouse for 9 months (Hmmm) while God was teaching me somethings and the one man living there said he was tempted to be the antichrist and his friend the whore of Babylon – we had another guy in the basement strung out on prescription drugs so I jokingly said I have the antichirst and the whore of Babylon living above me and the beast in the basement. Sometimes ya just gotta laugh it off. And YES, I’m a woman pastor who can’t break through the glass ceiling – Canada is the hardest place to minister as a woman from my experience. Blessings.

  • Paul Taylor

    First and foremost
    we must remember we are all only people who are subject to sin and short
    comings so if you’re a leader or a member forgive other just as Jesus has
    forgave us

    To share with you a little of my history in the last 2 years in the church I went from a lay
    speaker to becoming a lay minister and was due to get my title by our district committee
    however because I challenged my pastor on an issue they said I could bring up at our next charge conference and then said it was not open they threw me under the bus at my interview and I was turned down because she changed her mind as I questioned and challenged her and seeing she served on the committee no need to say not only did I not get my certificate but I was no longer eligible for the program all because I questioned and challenged her

    My point is this
    that even though I was angry I got over it and I now pray for her and her church
    as well as her health because that is what we are supposed to do as Christians

    We are to forgive and move on to the next mission for our Lord so yes a pastor has a lot to do but like us pastors fall and even fail but were to support them no matter what
    because if we cant forgive then we will not be forgiven so as a pastor you too
    must forgive those in your life and move on but I do understand what you’re
    saying its not easy and may take time but with God nothing is impossible

    So stay strong and keep the faith and we should not be judging others as we have way to many flaws in our own lives

    May the peace of Christ be with you in all you do and may all we do be for the glory of our
    Lords kingdom
    your brother in Christ

  • jeffaa

    I was ready to give up my occasional reading ChurchLeaders, but this article is the best thing I’ve read, here, to date. In fact, it is the best article I’ve read in Christian pubs. in years! One has to have been a pastor and had such experiences to understand this. I, too, did pastoral ministry in some capacity from about 1997-2008 and last served as a senior (solo really) pastor in my last stint in Appalachia. That was actually not a bad experience but riddled with much of what you experienced. None paid 40-60k! I was shunned out of one denomination for reporting the senior pastor I worked with for having sexually assaulting his daughter for 2 years during her elementary years (he was eventually defrocked and I was given a letter of disposition which is intended to protect me from any wrong doing. It was merely paper. I was then shunned by a circle of “praying pastors” in the community because of this also,though I did not make it public. I have seen and experienced every abuse subsequent to that time. People in the Church somehow think it is the pastor’s role to take such abuse and smile it off. If everyone in the Church, who is supposed, assumed their leadership role by gift and call, they would take up the nasty slack that always get put on one person. The mistaken notion that Bible teaches that a pastor is the head of the Church is where this derives from. I have changed my view on leadership. It is a shared function and I’ve yet to find anyone who can show me in scripture otherwise. I’ve even come to the place that I question the need to always have paid ministry in the Church, if at all. I feel you, will pray for you, and love you for your spirit and your willingness to TALK ABOUT IT!

  • CaroyPepe Vega

    Shaun, I a m really sorry you are so hurt, I think you spoke from your heart, and we know how much it hurts; we earnt 300 dlls a month, of course that did not include any kind of benefits, we have 2 children and when after 3 years of planting and praying asked for more, they said we loved money more than our calling, we had 3 weeks of resting in 3 years, we did not own a car, and our children did not have new clothes for 3 years, only second handed clothes, my wife did not go to the doctor in 3 years, and she had several emotional breakdowns and two major health issues, we took in a teen and had people eating at our house 4 to 5 times a week, even in our third world country that is toooo much, sop as you can see your salary to us sounds magnificent … we uunderstand and pray for you, we were healedwhile attending a different congregation and beiong taught that this is NOTHING, we have not suffered as much as Christ, that it is a privilege to be hurt, now we also learnt about limits, and that having 2 extra jobs, plus a working wife help ends meet, ideal? no, but still our trust is not in man, and we do not care anymore if we are valued and cherished as long as the name of Christ is valued, It does hurt BIG TIME, because our flesh wants more, at least pay all our bills without feeling like beggers, but still BELIEVE IN GOD, not other men, we are not the most valluable asset as we thought , God is.

  • Chuckw

    Praying for you Shaun and for all Pastors. The call is what keeps me going. Yes there are hits and storms. Recently though God has opened my eyes to realize the call is a call to discipleship. Bonhoeffer said, when Christ calls a person to himself he says, “Come to me and die.” We minister out of brokenness and humility and only in His strength.
    Praying for you my friend. God is not done with you. Turn that setback into a comeback. Learn from your mistakes and gather trusted counselor around you and get back in advancing God’s kingdom.

    • PastorPB

      Thank you for caring about him and others

  • http://twitter.com/strategicchurch John Albiston

    Great article Shaun! You definitely hit the nail on the head. I’m quite surprised at the intensity of the venom directed against you here in these comments. It’s practically a rabies epidemic. Clearly the “They will know you are Christians by your love” message hasn’t got out. Sigh. I guess there’s no point getting upset over the fact that dogs bite and bees sting – it’s just what they do.

    • http://twitter.com/ShaunKing Shaun King

      It’s always like that bro. Thanks for the love.

  • Tim

    After reading this article I was left wondering what made Shaun chose Pastoral Ministry in the first place? Shepherding is a gift and a calling not an obligation.Seems as if Shaun’s trials in ministry were all taken as “personal” and not for the sake of Christ. In Acts 4 the apostles rejoiced that they were beaten for the name of Christ, but Shaun is complaining because he was left feeling alone and no one seemed to care that he was hurt. A biblical model for Eldership in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1-2 we see a “plurality of Elders” which allows for a foundation for accountability as well as multiples to help bare the burdens. This model was also seen in the Old Testament: Numbers 11-12 Moses dealing with the grumblings and burdens of the people cries out to God at his inability to care for all those people, God mercifully allows Moses to chose “70 Elders” who can take part in leading and sharing of burdens. Sadly none of Shaun’s points ever really get to the real purpose of the church, which is to bring glory to God.Like many others Shaun pursued ministry with the expectations of getting something out of it and instead began to experience some suffering Christ warned of. How did Shaun react? He fled..Shaun states he isnt part of a local church and rarely speaks at them.(1Jn2:19) those reading and admiring Shaun for confessing his struggles, please be cautious, Christ suffered and died for the church Shaun is easily writing off.

    • Paul Loner

      I think that is unfair to Tim to question if he was called or not. My husband and I both were called to pastoral ministry, but also were very hurt by the church and not protected by our denomination. Unfortunately, abuse runs rampant in most denominations and is not called on. I was an abuse counsellor before being a pastor and just amazed how much the church can abuse their pastors and get away with it. This is not right and not of God. Abuse is awful and can cripple even those who are strong. As for attending church irregularly, after being hurt by church of course you are leary to be part of that. When we first quit pastoring after much prayer ( and thankfully God has provided for our family) it was hard to go to church. My family would pray and sing together and have special time at home. It took a few months, and seeing a christian counselor to heal and allow myself to trust church again. Never did a I leave or desert God. My own devotional time increased and God was faithful to remind me I am his child no matter what my title is. I still know I am called, but right now my family ( to teens) need our attention and I believe God is giving us this time to ensure they are spiritually healthy. Unfortunately those that abuse attack our children once they get in the teen years. We protected them when they were little but as teens this was a struggle. Anyhow…thankfully nearly 3 years later our son is embarking on a missions trip, our daughter continues to figure out her own spirituality We are going to an amazing church that is very loving and leading the marriage ministry there. Our children are also involved and liking it. I will be praying for you Shaun. Praying you will feel the Father’s love and acceptance. I would recommend The prodigal son by Henri Nouwen and the guide that goes with it. Blessings for you and your family.

      • Paul Loner

        this i sPau’ls wife Jennifer. Used wrong email just so you know. Will try and get this fixed!

        • amos8

          Yes, Paul having a “husband” through me a little. But perhaps that is just me being “judgmental.”

      • http://twitter.com/ShaunKing Shaun King

        Hi. Thanks for your thoughts here. I pastored for nearly 15 years. Called. This blog was never meant to explain my calling to strangers, but just to give a hodge podge of my thoughts reflecting back after a year away from ministry.

      • aclott

        It is God who protects and restores not the denomination or man. Please understand this one thing the church is not there for the pastor the pastor is there for the church. When a pastor isolate his/her self by not placing themselves in an accountability group made up of fellow pastors the entire body suffers. Ministry is hard Jesus said it would be we have to make sure that we are being built up by people who have been through similar experiences. How can we expect the very people we are called to pastor to do this?

      • PastorPB

        very nice thoughts

  • John

    I would ask you a couple of questions Shawn. What has God done to wrong you? You describe yourself as someone who “attends church occasionally.” Does the Lord deserve to be deserted by you? Do none of His People deserve to be encouraged by you? Do you no longer need the encouragement of fellow Christians? Have you outgrown the need for coming around the Lord’s table?

    Trust me when I say that I do understand what it is to be “worked over” in Ministry. Been there, done that, still doing it after 30 years. But the times when I felt the most abused and hurt were the times when I needed to be with God’s people.
    When I read about what the Apostle Paul went through in his Ministry, I feel like a wimp for even thinking about complaining. He didn’t quit! I’m no apostle Paul, and neither are you, but we serve the same LORD! Don’t walk away until your battle is done!
    Perhaps God’s plan for you is not to be in a “paid Ministry” position, but as a Faithful Church member and leader who “has the preacher’s back!”

    • Dalia

      Johnny, you don’t need to know me. The Lord knows me, and that suffices. Shawn didn’t desert God. People who claim to be Christians deserted him, (Shawn). Phony Christians are unnerving, and hit Shawn’s last nerve. However, he did drop the F bomb. Sad. But, anywho, you are correct when you say you are no apostle. Which is exactly my point. There are a small few who strive daily, and there are some who are downright phonies. I don’t need to be a pastor, and I am not one, but I have discernment through reading God’s word daily for a few hours to smell a rat. Sorry your pride got in the way, but you don’t have to risk my getting my chainsaw out, lol. When you ask your many questions to Shawn, I sense a tad of patronizing. The angel will do the chopping in the great tribulation. I just call it as I hear it. Shawn is sick of pretentious pastors…who feel like wimps. If you “feel” like it, maybe you are.

      • John

        Dalia, you claim to have discernment. You say that it comes from reading God’s word for hours every day. perhaps you need to reevaluate your “gift.” First of all, The “chainsaw remark” was only up for about a minute before I decided it was in poor taste, and I removed it. You did however attack a number of people on this thread, and I was trying to be funny. As for the rest of your “discernment” it seemed more like name calling to me. In one paragraph, you called my dedication to the Lord into question and called me a phony. You said you “smelled a rat” and called me prideful. You said I was patronizing and pretentious. You then went on to use what I said to Shaun in a completely different way, to call me a wimp. You even acted as though you can read Shaun’s mind to the point of knowing exactly what “Shawn is sick of.” Your “discernment” as you call it is something you should NOT blame God for.
        Not that it’s really any of your business, but the point I was trying to make to Shaun was that he shouldn’t give up serving the Lord because some people hurt him. I was trying to encourage him. I guess in your “discerning moment” you missed that. Fortunately, Shaun didn’t.

        • amos8

          Good word.

          There is “BIBLICAL discernment” where we (should all) practice discerning if something is biblical or not.

          This is far more objective than the “other” kind of “discernment” where people believe they have the “gift” to discern what is going on in another person.

          This is far more subjective, “mystical” and , therefore, full of potential for error, harshness, hurt, AND, somewhat ironically, deception (i.e. discernment is what is supposed to keep us from being deceived).

          I don’t know what kind of discernment she was referring to, but I hope it was the latter. The latter “discernment” often leads to a lot of pride and error (the first one does as well, but not as much).

    • http://twitter.com/ShaunKing Shaun King

      Hey John. Thanks for your thoughts here bro. God has DONE NOTHING to wrong me. Not even a little bit. This blog did not completely detail my views and relationship with God. Just some raw thoughts.

      • aclott

        Shaun, I think you are free to wright anything you choose. I would suggest however, you consider “raw thoughts” like free writing something one works through to get to the valuable creative work. your “raw thoughts” are just that they could and maybe should be peeled salted and stewed until they can be served in love season with humility. I totally understand where you are coming from; anyone who has been in ministry of any kind does if they are seeking God’s will. we should remember Ephesians 6:12-18 (KJV)
        12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
        13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
        14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
        15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
        16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
        17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
        18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

      • John Walton

        Shawn, my point is that exactly. To be a Christian means to be a part of the family, with all it’s flaws. Maybe not in the church that hurt you, almost certainly not. Maybe not in the capacity that you once were serving. But as a part of the family. Gathering to praise, worship God and to encourage one another. I hope you don’t let the pain of being hurt separate you from the God and His family that you love.

  • Ben

    Good morning Shaun, I read your post I am sorry you went through what you went through,

    but why are pastures trying to be Jesus on this earth only he could feed 5000 than another 4000, yes we must be compassionate but we can not carry man like Jesus can. What distresses me it is the church that is being blamed what church? If it is the church that is the body of Christ than what I am hearing, The son of God can not keep his church and the gates of hell are prevailing. is this what I am hearing? what church on this earth is perfect? none, as long as man is in this flesh he is short of the glory of God, and we will not be perfected until the change the great change when we leave this body and get our new one. but until this happens we are going to struggle. how many people are calling on the The Holy Spirit for comfort and guidance? and the name calling why just because we do not agree in the interpretation, what kind of God are we serving a god who needs to be protected by his followers, are we serving a God who protects us by His word?Ben

  • Billy

    Shaun, my dad was a pastor and I saw my parents get beat up a lot. After watching them, I can tell you that you need time to heal. It takes years. You also need to forgive the people you feel hurt by … every day, again and again, until it sticks.

    Because of what I saw my parents go through, I was terrified when the Lord unexpectedly called me to pastoral ministry – it had been the one thing I said I’d never do (oops). I reluctantly obeyed, fearing the worst. About a year into it, the Lord showed me that I was being like Jonah … not when he ran from God, but when he finally went and preached but lacked love for the people. In an effort to protect myself from pain, I was guarding my heart to the point that I wasn’t loving people. I realized that I couldn’t truly minister to people without loving them, and if I loved them I was vulnerable to getting hurt. God was asking me to choose to love, come what may. Jesus said to take up our cross daily, which I assume implies that we willingly walk into situations in which we might be tortured.

  • amos8

    Sadly, these experiences are far too common. Yes, they “should not happen,” but let’s be accurate in placing responsibility.

    Is it accurate to blame “the church”? I think this is most accurate to blame PEOPLE in general, all “people.” [i.e. human sinful nature] In other words, this is a universal problem with people (no matter where you go, or what religion), not merely a church problem.

    Should “Christians” know, think, and love better than “others”? Of course, but we all fall into a trap of having unrealistic expectations of those who attend church. Perhaps most, if not all of us, are guilty of this.

    What Shaun (and many of us) went through is real, and tragic on different levels. But, if I may say so, it is to be expected. We have little to no control over this, but we do have 100% control over our responses and handling of these situations.

    The sinful behavior of “others” is a constant, our handling of this is the variable. This accurate view brings hope.

  • amos8

    While many people have had similar experiences, one huge thing to guard against is becoming BITTER toward people, “the church,” and even God.

    I have known a tone of people who had a painful experience in “strict” or “legalistic” or “judgmental” churches and, in their bitterness, reacted in their deep resentment by going to the other extreme (and then subtly and overtly attacking “the church” and “Pharisees” and “Christians” and ….).

    Asaph, when he was deeply disturbed by the actions of those around him said, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered I was senseless and ignorant, I was a brute beast before you.”

    He seemly lost his “senses” and concern for discerning and for how he treated others (perhaps he felt justified because of his “righteous anger” at the people who presented these very real problems).

    The problems Shaun mentioned are very real, but so is the extreme reaction syndrome.

  • Dave Ekstrom

    Shaun,
    God bless you, brother. The stress got to you and you snapped. You’re a good guy and you wanted to jump into the work. You were willing to work hard and sacrifice and it was all taken advantage of. The outbursts themselves are mere symptoms of the building stress which I fully understand. I’ve blown it myself so of course I understand. I must say, though, that the vocabulary and the abusive nature of the comments seem to be excessive, even under stress. But your response to amos was that “you don’t care if you take me seriously.” Really? You’ve had some time to get distance and you still seem combative. No doubt amos’ comment that “people shouldn’t take you seriously” was uncalled for. But you say, “I don’t care what you think about me”? Really? You are deeply hurt and someone stomped on you again. I think a better response would be more assertive not combative. A combative response is not appropriate for a pastor-ever. You’re obviously a good guy who wants to advance the kingdom and is willing to work and sacrifice to make it happen. You laid down on the tracks and the train ran you right over. That was totally unfair and downright mean. I’m sorry. I’m only responding to this to preach to myself. How can I respond to ill treatment more assertively rather than allowing stress and bitterness to grow? I don’t know the answer to that. Anyways, love you, bro.

    • amos8

      In the interest of truth, accuracy, grace, and love I offer this correction, Dave. What I said, in full, was:

      “Shaun, I appreciate your honesty and efforts here, but I’m not sure how anyone
      should take you seriously as a “Christian Leader” (however we define
      that these days) unless you address your egregious actions and words and
      public, verbal assault:

      “@PastorMark kiss my Christian *** for saying that. How dare you pass such an ugly judgment on him…”

      “(You) are the most ugly, harsh & judgmental excuse (for) a Christian I know..”

      Perhaps you already cleared this up and I missed it.

      Can anyone else explain this for me?”

      Yet you somehow asserted that I declared, “people shouldn’t take you seriously.”

      How did you get that from what I wrote?

      It was more than clear that I was/am open to more information (“unless you address…”), which he provided. I merely stated that if ____ is the case, then how can we, without addressing _____, take you seriously? Can you tell me what is wrong with that, or what is not clear?

      If someone, anyone, is an “unrepentant” leader, then is it not wise, if not loving, to ask the questions I asked?

      Other than that, I really liked what you had to say.

      • http://twitter.com/ShaunKing Shaun King

        I apologized the same day and have apologized 4 times publicly since. Mark never apologized. I assume you agree with what he said though.

        • amos8

          Thanks again for responding, Shaun, I truly did not expect it. More power to you.

          I like it that you addressed it right away, and multiple times! As you know, the biggest problem/concern is not so much IF we blow it, but it is in IF or HOW we handle our failures (Prov 28:13; Ps 32; 51). I rarely see leaders (religious or otherwise) FULLY own up, confess, repent, and seek specific forgiveness.

          Also, in this particular situation, almost no one would admit the self-defeating actions of judging and condemning others for judging! You should have seen the judging and condemning and vitriol that went happened when people were challenged with this.

          You said, “I assume you agree with what he said though.”

          No, not true. I am NOT a fan of MD. I fully believe, however, we can and should make “judgments” [if they are not "hypocritical;" if we use the right "measure"/standard; if we are accurate; if we are motivated by love, not selfishness, etc; if we use grace/mercy; if we are seeking truth, not "winning;" if we are also open to correction/rebuke; etc], but I would steer clear of judging the salvation “status” of another individual, and I highly caution against judging the motives of others.

    • Dalia

      A combative response is not appropriate ever. Your words. Tell that to Jamie, the bully. Oh, how he crumbled so easily. Lol

      • Jamie

        So admitting a mistake and apologizing for a comment “whiner” is crumbling? I think you need to read your Bible where it says a man shows wisdom when he can admit when he was wrong. If that is the definition of a bully then so be it. I would rather “crumble so easily” and admit wrong than not to apologize just to prove a point to you or anyone else. And you are the type of person that drives Pastor’s crazy because you cannot be reasoned with so move on.

        • amos8

          Jamie, thanks for owning up, it is a rarity. Blessings!

  • Tad

    Thank you Shaun for your courage in sharing. Thank you Church Leaders for not editing out the raw emotion and making this simply one more inauthentic “Christian leadership subscription”. Thank you to those churches who are seriously wrestling with God’s command to care for my fellow pastors and their pastor’s families. Some of you are giving generously, and stretching every dollar to care for them well. I applaud you. We applaud you. Some day you will stand before their Father God and he will reward you for caring for his kids. Thank you to those pastors who have served and continue to serve generously while being treated cheaply. Great is your reward in heaven. Thank you to those of you who serve inexpensively and count it a blessing. Should you find yourselves disillusioned or frustrated with this in the future. Remember you are only human. A pastor card does not remove you from the realm of humanity and the consequential weakness. Thank you as well to those pastors who are questioning the sanity of bearing the burdens of people who seam to believe the command to bear burdens is a one way street. Thank you Father God that you are not afraid, put off, wringing your hands, or powerless to meet each of us in the middle of our condition and give us peace and health. You God are awesome!

  • Old n’ Rich

    Any man or woman who has persevered through more than a few years of pastoral ministry should be able to identify with you, Shaun, at least to some extent. When the garden variety experiences and concerns you describe lead one to exit the ministry, one should chalk up the time spent as an investment in the lives of those who were benefited by the work done – and then move on to other work, or just take a break. There is nothing magical about the pastoral ministry in and of itself. Let’s face it, the ministry is hard work at times. However, as a wrinkled old pastor, if I may, I have a comment to offer to each of the numbered points in your article:

    1. From your description in point 1, you were carrying people, and it’s no wonder that you eventually crumbled under the load. You’re their pastor, not their Savior. In spite of the popular conception of ministry, you and I can never “be Jesus” to anyone. Only Jesus can be Jesus, and if pastors will point the way and lead the way to Him, then they will be better served and the pastor will live a more balanced and sustainable life.

    2. The ministry would be a breeze if it weren’t for the people. Apostolic, prophetic, and evangelistic types seem to be able to keep a buffer between themselves and the folks; but the pastor/teacher is a bit more like the “matador” of the Christian ministry – you do your best work in very close proximity to “the bull”. Plus, the pastor needs to be at least 5% more mature than the people he or she is leading so that you don’t have any unrealistic expectations about how well you expect “the bull” to treat you. Use the cape, be aware of the horns at all times, and don’t run because you’ll just get run-over (again).

    3. The ministry is inherently lonely work. Your mentors should have built that expectation into your preparation. But here’s the remedy: ;Do your work with Jesus, be a closet worshipper as well as a public example of it, and you won’t be quite as lonely.

    4. To the average, how you say… “congregant” off the street, the pastor of any size church is a non-person whose life should be above common feelings. It’s what they learn in “congregant” training. They need you to gently help them learn that you’re real.

    5. Many many many aspiring church planters are sent out without a realistic knowledge of, or commitment to actually plow ground, plant seed and make sacrifices in order to just survive in the ministry. It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Most who leave the ministry leave because they found out what the ministry is really like, and they find out that they just don’t love it. It no longer calls to them to want to be like the pastor, or the image of a pastor, whom they idolized. (Or it may be that they were trying too hard to be funny, or it turned out that they just weren’t funny at all. People just won’t tolerate such an imbalance in their pastor.) Lot’s of Christians give the ministry a try, and they really just should not have – either didn’t have the goods, or didn’t maintain their own life. It’s alright to be a believer and not ever be paid to be a pastor

    6. Regarding the need for greater gender inclusiveness – sounds like you have a passion to pursue, dude.

    7. Point 7 is true, of course because most pastors have never had a real business or real management responsibilities out there where their successful biz-types function. Could be that’s why God is guiding you out of the church-facility based pastorate – so that you can do a better job of shepherding people where they live.

    The Lord is with you. Love one another. He is coming again and hopefully you and I will be with Him. Love you all. I had fun.

    • http://www.facebook.com/philmichaels Phil Michaels

      “The ministry is inherently lonely work” – is it, or is the model we have set up in American/Western Christianity what is inherently lonely? Jesus seemed to model group-and-communally-oriented ministry and discipleship rather than individualism.

  • Tyler Mase

    You want the best method for preventing these kinds of problems?

    Start your own church. Structure the government so it is biblical and does not leave you without appropriate authority.

    More times than not, if you start the church, you will experience a lot less challenges to your authority because you predate everyone. That alone gives you certain credibility.

    If your church grows as mine has, to over 1,000 then you will start to experience a lot more of the kind of attacks you have about which you have spoken. Your church at that point needs more structure and accountability. But you should not be having these kinds of battles in small churches with big egos. I see ads for churches shopping for a new pastor. They want an M.Div, five years of experience, and they pay $25,000 a year and run 80.

    Some churches are run by irrational power hungry people who “love” as Diotrephes to have the preeminence.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMCBGEYIFLR5M2E36OFSZ3VUUQ Dodger

      Tyler…helpful thought, but totally impractical for most pastors. They do not have the gifting and talent to launch their own church from scratch. Most of us have to work in systems and governance we cannot control. Shaun’s words should pierce those who are part of the leadership structure of uncaring churches. That said, much of the pressure pastors feel is self-imposed. We have to find ways to allow the “Concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28) to weigh us down and we do not allow the Holy Spirit’s power to carry us, nor do we allow the body to care for us. We create the impervious barriers that keep us isolated and do not allow the body to minister as it should.

      And FYI, Shaun’s last church, Courageous Church, was planted by him. Some of what he experienced was him trying to lead a church and multiple non-profits and speaking engagements all at the same time. I pray for him regularly.

      • http://www.facebook.com/philmichaels Phil Michaels

        So what would be the Biblical, prescribed gifting and talent for one to launch “their own church” (that should say something, right there) from scratch? When Jesus says if two or three gather together in His name, He is there, is that meant only for *certain* people with the right gifting and talent?

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMCBGEYIFLR5M2E36OFSZ3VUUQ Dodger

          Phil, when I gather with my family for prayer or my friends for study, Christ is there. But we are not a church body…we are christ-followers gathering. To plant a new local congregation, the ecclesia, a biblically led body of Christ followers, the planter needs a particular set of gifts. It is great if they are a teacher, a pastor, and a leader. They also must be able to gather a large body around them with diverse gifts so that the body can be the full expression talked about in Eph. 4.

          • http://www.facebook.com/philmichaels Phil Michaels

            Where was it again that Paul describes the correct number of people who must gather together in Jesus’ name before the gathering can be called a church? Wait…that’s right…he *doesn’t*. Or maybe this comes from when Jesus says we are to go and make disciples of all nations, and there must be at least a certain number of people gathered at the same time, in the same place, in a place that is owned by the church and specifically constructed to house worship gatherings that can hold at least ‘x’ number of people? And surely that number isn’t more than 12, right, since that is what Jesus started with? You can see the sarcasm, of course. It’s not angry sarcasm, by the way. Just trying to point out the absurdity of the above.

            Again, “the planter needs a particular set of gifts.” This is not Scripturally-justified, at all, yet you claim this person would need to plant a “biblically led body of Christ followers” (I always thought if I was a Christ follower it was Christ who was leading me, not the Bible, since we worship the former, but not the latter…but I digress…).

            It seems to me you are imposing modern church and cultural understandings and wisdom onto the biblical text and/or the workings of the tradition/history of the Church. Understand, I *don’t discount* the need to discern the best leadership for new churches we can possibly have, and for accountability between leadership, local churches, and the larger Church.

            There is no difference between a small gathering, a large gathering, a family gathering, a gathering of friends – if it is done it the name of Jesus, to the glory of God, Christ is there, and so is the Church.

          • http://www.churchaccomplished.com/ Dave

            Phil, sarcasm is noted. I don’t see the “absurdity” of wanting to follow God’s written word as worship and obey God’s incarnate Word. God is not confused when His written word instructs on how to lead and structure his body, the Church. This is not an imposition of a modern cultural standard on the church. Paul admonished Titus to appoint “elders” (plural) in the churches. Rom 12, 1 Cor 12 all list numerous gifts that are to be expressed in the church and without them the gathering is not a full expression of Christ’s body.

            You said Christ only had 12 followers but that is nonsense. He had 12 core disciples, but sent out 72 others to preach (LK 10:1) and at Pentecost there were about 120 gathered together as one. Thousands came to hear him preach (arrrgggh those large numbers)! Each Christ follower is a priest but each believer/priest is NOT the body. That requires more than one to accomplish his mission (Mt. 28:18-20) and his intent was that we do it together (Jn 17:21ff) in unity.

  • newsdiscussions

    I understand your thougths and identify with them completely. I hear your pain and even anger in this. I am a pastor of a new church plan. About 6 months ago, I found myself in a place ready to walk away from it all. I was broken, hurt, TIRED and carrying a heavy burden. I can’t judge you buy this 2 page blog, I do not know you. Here is what helped me. I took time to talk it out with a trusted pastor friend. It helped me to step back and re-evaulate a lot of things I was/was not doing. From your Bio, it seems you have your hand in just about everything, founder of Twitchange, a homeinhaiti and the church. What are you doing to build people to help you in these ministries? I have come to terms that I cannot and will not do everything that needs to be done. I have never been paid yet for a pastoral job….have always been a part of small or new church plants. I have a great secular job, but when everything is on my shoulders I step away for a moment put everything on autodrive…if whatever I am in charge of falls apart, let it, it can be replaced, fixed or re-evaulated. I hear your pain more in the responses below than in the blog itself. Ministry does have a way of chewing you up and spitting you out. Look at Jesus, no one ever had a ministry like his, and in the end the people He ministered to, healed, spoke life into and ultimately came to save beat him nearly to death, and hung him on a cross and left him for dead. Just make sure you are taking time in the garden away from it all and find brothers who will hold you up in word and deed. I will be praying for you!!!

  • Bob

    There were 12 apostles to pray together and seek God’s guidance…the burden was shared…The sharing of the burden feels so right, not one person standing against the wind. Even then, everyone needs someone at their back. We pray for all healing and much union so that you can know you were loved by God for all that you did. This article’s points were all honest and real… Let’s have each other’s backs.We pray for much more to come into your life. My wife and I are finishing training for overseas ministry (in our 60’s) and we know in one way or another this exists all over the world. We send our love.

  • Jamie

    First, I need to apologize to you Shaun for calling you a whiner. Your article hit me on a bad day and regardless of what Dalia says in reference to my “little issues” they are real to me. So, for calling you a whiner I do apologize and I’m man enough to admit it.

    With that being said I don’t want to back down in my challenge to you, for whatever it is worth. You wrote a very raw article and you should know as a Christian leader that when you speak from raw emotions you tend to get raw emotions in return. Mine was raw. I tend to put things in perspective and in the counseling world we learn that our feelings are our own and that we own them. No one can tell us our feelings are dumb. You have yours and I am not going to question your feelings. But, it’s about perspective. I just returned from a missions trip to Belize last summer. I saw a 4 year old little girl come walking out of a shack and cross a dirt road just to attend a few days of VBS. We were kings in that country. These people pooled together their own money to buy “gold medals” to pin on our shirts just to say “thank you.” It’s a hopeless place. The missionary who pastors this tiny church actually works for Samaritan’s Purse. He stated that Belize is one of the most hopeless countries that he has seen. From what I saw I could believe it.

    We live like kings compared to these people. It does not diminish your feelings and frustrations but in light of the big picture things could be far, far worse. You points addressed people not caring, money, and loneliness. It’s par for the course for ALL of us in ministry. My issues, regardless of what the Dalia’s of the world say, are REAL just like yours. I struggle with anger, bitterness, and loneliness like you. I’m no better than you are but your article left me with wondering, “why was this written for us to read?” It just sounded like a gripe, complaint session to me and I just wasn’t in the mood to hear any complaining today. Those were my raw emotions coming out in response to your raw emotions. You simply pushed some buttons in me.

    This is not be “backing down” but rather attempting to word my feelings differently and again offer my apology for the “whiner” comment. For what it’s worth.

    Hopefully, you can find a way to allow God to heal you from these very strong and very raw emotions and get back “in the game.”

  • Gary

    Really amazing, the language, name calling, and the vitriol. The one who loved us, saved us and called us is still calling us to be HOLY as he is Holy. Been pastoring the same church for 33 years. The battle rages on daily, but God is and always has been good. Can’t hate and heal at the same time.

  • marvin

    i think that most of the commentary on this particular article is missing the point of this article. it is obvious to me that Shaun loves the church, so much so that he is able to offer critical thought on how the church can be better for the task of reaching the unsaved and discipling believers. appreciation, compensation, and more importantly the mental and emotional health of church leaders (pastors, youth pastor, staff pastors, etc.) are NOT appropriately address. this is not victimization, it is truth. it is not complaining, it is a critique on church culture in America, specifically when it comes to the pastoral position.

    as an aside, let us not be so quick to judge our brother based on one tweet. the reality is that sometimes, the frustrations of ministry make you want to cuss. that’s his speck, what is your plank?

    Shaun- thanks for your candor and critique. definitely things to be considered for us as up and coming church leaders seeking to be about a our Father’s business.

    -g-

  • ,Brother Mike Viscome

    Hi Brother I just got so far in your article and found one thing that SHOUTED at me and it is what you said ” and am still recovering and struggling to find my way in the contemporary church.” It bothered me because many times we think contemporary is good even though we look to a Saviour that came two thousand years ago.Any how my point is find a traditional fundamental Bible believing church ,one that has not given itself over to the modern ways of the world and I think you wont be “chewed up”God Bless,Brother Mike Viscome

  • wiseopinion

    Are they servants of Christ?–I speak as if insane–I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.

    2Co 11:23-33

    For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

    2Co 12:6-10

  • lenchito

    Dude, in my 26 years of pastoring, even with all the hardships I’ve gone through with people, pioneering, & missionary work, it’s still an honor & a privilige & a blessing to pastor. People will hurt you, but you got to keep loving and just keep moving forward, Jesus did, so can we. Oh, yeah, stop your crying & get on with it!

  • lenchito

    Oh, sorry, God bless.

  • Ken

    Great word Shaun! Thank you for sharing and offering tremendous insight. Blessings on you!

  • Ryan

    Sometimes people just need a time away. When it comes to older people, it can mean several years. The minds of older folks are more set, more hard, things take longer to work through and we’re in no rush. It takes one well rooted in Christ to live for a time in the wilderness of the world alone outside the church. I’m doing it. I wouldn’t recommend it for those yonger. It says that those outside the church, God judges. There is personal responsibility on the outside and it does put one in a position of being more in touch with God through prayer and feeding yourself through His word. Fasting has its affects whether food or the word of God. You get weak and you get hungary. You eat and your refreshed and you regain that life. You live the reality in that when Jesus is all you have, you find that Jesus is all you need and, Wow! Christianity can be free. Like Abraham, Issac and Jacob, just big sky and God. If Joseph managed alone in Egypt, a slave and imprisoned, trusting God, although not usual or recommended, it’s not impossible. But things change and when the time comes He will bring us back.

  • imagodei

    Shaun, thank you for writing this. It has helped me to really stop and think about my pastor. He is excellent and pastors a small church in the mountains of northeast Georgia. Many of our members are getting older and have a lot of health issues and financial problems, so I know he carries those burdens daily. I so appreciate your vulnerability in sharing your heart. I hear you loud and clear and will make every effort to encourage my pastor and to make sure he and his family know they are loved an cared for. As for a salary, 40k is a minuscule amount to support a family and pay ministry expenses such as travel. Many of our pastors have no choice but to borrow money to pay for seminary, while working a full time and demanding job. As a result they are saddled with debt and facing a life of extreme modesty that is so undeserving. It is a sad issue that we need to address within the church. We need to pay our pastors more, especially in an established church. Their children should not have to suffer because of the calling of God on their father.

    • PastorPB

      Thank you for hearing him

  • Joe Cox

    I hear a lot of complaining but very little direction about a healthy next step. If I were a lead pastor I would find this rant both unhelpful and it sounds like it was written by an unhappy person who may also not be healthy. As a 20 youth pastor I have both extremes working under different pastors. Better to equip us than aggravate us.

    • jamie

      You said it better than I did because I responded out of anger. I wasn’t sure of the purpose of the rant on Shaun’s part other than to get it off of his chest in a social media context which leads to reactions from everyone, good and bad. Why anyone can’t understand that is beyond me. I, too, would love to know what steps he is taking to get healthy again.

  • Casy

    Praying for you! (seriously)

  • Vern

    The clegy-laity system is the problem. God never called anyone to be a part of that system. Pastors generally all have the same experience in that system. Because it is all they know, when Christians hear God’s call, they assume it must be to be a pastor in that system. There is another way. It’s plain as day if you simply can see it in the New Testament. Been living it 25 years. It’s still not easy, but there is strength and support in the Body of Christ, that no pastor receives from his congregation.

  • CB

    Women in parish leadership? Read your New Testament, young man. Not.

  • Kathryn Leonard

    As a woman Pastor, I cannot thank you enough. As a Pastor chewed up and spit out, I cannot thank you enough. As a servant of Jesus Christ, who passionately loves the church, believes in Her call to present love and unity to a disjointed world…I hunger to Pastor the sheep once again…but there is that woman thing…
    may we all learn from our mistakes and grow in love and grace, forgiving, and walking through the next open door! I am sorry to see the full on vile discussion further down…we do all face persecutions of every kind that we may share in the sufferings of Christ and thereby share in His glory. My being ” chewed up” turned in to God sifting as He did Peter…i have kicked and screamed through most of it, but truth be told…I am better for it. It comes down to whether we trust our God who called us to
    Himself first…

  • Chazzer

    Point #6… can your claim be substantiated? Wow.

    Interesting article, Man.

  • marlo

    i want to add one more thing to Trevor’s list. That is” love what god
    want for you and not what you think you want or should have. too many
    times we get frustrating and lost because we are doing it our way and
    not God’s way. whether you make $ 20,000 or $300,000 once you are
    certain that you are doing what God have called you to do his love keeps
    you; his peace calms you and his joy overwhelms you in times of
    despair.

    Be encouraged my brothers and sisters testing is a must as a born again christian

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