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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:

Philip Wagner 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 http://www.philipwagner.com/blog/

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  • Tom Cocklereece

    Over 1700 pastors left the ministry last year…I am one of those but I hope it is only a temporary status. It was time for me to leave this particular church that continued to resist changes in the community and God’s will for the future. I left because I felt that God said it was time to leave. I am now much more passionate about praying for pastors and understanding what may be really going on in their lives…behind the smile.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lifeflowingministries Jim Webb

      As a Pastor going on Four years June 14 it has had many ups & downs.The trials can be fierce at times.But one thing that was left out is the trials the Pastors wife goes through.This also causes a whole new spectrum of issues in the marriage & church. Pastors wives are not the Pastors but are also judged & watched like a hawk.You covered pastoring very well.A man of experience.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bill.schoneman Bill Schoneman

        Well said Jim Webb! The attacks have even been more intense on my wife then even myself!

      • http://www.facebook.com/samuellagumbay Samuel Lagumbay Jr.

        Great words Jim Webb

    • Peter Timothy Cooper

      Brave but I am sure the right decision to leave a church that keeps on fighting against God’s will.

  • Trevor

    We die so that others may live, its the biblical pattern. But it can be a slow and painful death! These six points also make living with yourself harder. I’m the hardest person to live with that I know!

    The only recourse is a close, intimate and careful walk with Jesus that you allow nothing to take priority over. The gospel and a sense of adoption from the Fathers arms are the only things that can prevent us from becoming hard, or broken beyond repair. Practically, its also very important to eat properly, get plenty of exercise and sleep. It makes you feel better, and if your biology fails everything becomes so much harder. I’m currently on anti-depressant medication, but hopefully not for too long. The meds atleast enable me to keep ministering while I repair.

    Some have needed to leave the ministry for a time, in order to regroup. I understand that and have done it myself. I can’t understand any pastor who feels called by God ever leaving the ministry for good. Better to die on the job than leave your post. I never want to say to Christ on the day of judgment ‘it was too hard so I quit’. Actually I don’t want to say anything, I just want to hear ‘well done good and faithful servant”. That will be sheer grace.

  • otis

    How can a pastor finds and develop healthy friendships? Can I get some practical tips please.

    • Twinsfan1

      Otis, for me it was finding a trusted pastor of a different denomination, but who shared the same essential doctrines. We not only shared our ministry and personal burdens, we also did fun stuff together, like go to movies with our boys, grab lunch, etc. We are good friends and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

      I did not feel like I could have genuine deep friendships with any of my congregation, although there was one guy that came close. It wasn’t my fear that he would “spill the beans” about my struggles, but rather that I would be seen as a failure, since I didn’t have everything under control.

      • Gabriella

        @ TwinsFan: We are called to bear each others’ burdens. Do you think that if you can’t share your true heart with even ONE member of your congregation that they don’t sense that? (They can) And that perhaps this makes them believe they can’t be open with you either? (they wont)

        If you can’t be “real” with members of your congregation, man, who will you be “real” with?

        I dont think we do each other any favors within the family of God by putting on a prideful mask.

    • kathy

      Invite people to your home.

  • Sally Henry

    One of the biggest reasons pastors burnout and get overwhelmed is that they are not having a regular devotional time in the word and in prayer beyond sermon and/or class/small group preparation. Pastors are trying to be THE Savior. We’re not the shepherd – we’re the sheepdog. We take our cues and our orders from the shepherd. We have to know who our source of power and strength and perseverance is. Looking at other churches is inspirational. Making new pastor friends is important, and vital. Discovering new views is also part of the job. But if we’re not in daily touch with God in meaningful ways…then it’s all for naught and we have no reason for asking why we’re burnt out.

    • Gabriella

      Amen

  • Jerry Edmonds

    I have been called to a partnership with pastors, to coach and help them with life and relationships. I have a heart for pastors, having been close to several throughout my own life and ministry – as well as serving as an interim myself. One area that I see as a struggle is that many pastors are not allowed to simply be human. I intend to provide a place to allow pastors to be that. I’m not sure how that will look, but I am convinced that this will meet a great need that I have personally seen in pastors. Comments?

    • LJ3

      I have 2 comments:
      1. looking forward to details
      2. thank you already

    • HAL9000

      They are human. How can they be anything else? Anyway, I assume that pastors have free will just like all the other humans. What trick do you have up your sleeve that will allow them to “be human;” something you think they cannot accomplish themselves?

      • Jerry Edmonds

        Hal, I have read your responses here, and one thing is clear. All you want to do is throw a bunch of words out and see what sticks. Sad, really sad.

  • Jim

    I heard this and liked it the other day, a couple come to the Pastor and say “We are leaving because we are not getting fed here, you are too much like John MacArthur” The Pastor replied “its not our church its you, Sick sheep don’t eat”

    • kathy

      @ Jim: very loving response. No wonder they left.

  • Tim

    Good article. I would encourage an additional few items for “To Pastors” – have the courage to actively and publicly model repentance, humility, reconciliation and forgiveness.

  • Ellen Cooper

    Don’t forget additional challenges that women face, especially if they are parents as well.

  • Dave McFadden

    After nearly 40 years in the pastorate, I have concluded that to succeed in ministry is to survive the ministry. It’s all about finishing well.

    • pianoladypatt

      Well said!!!

  • http://www.dbaresults.com Audrey Wyatt

    That is why, I believe, God created the five fold ministry. Pastors are expected to do everything when we really need others to balance the work so that it does not become overwhelming.

    • Pastor Tim

      To further the understanding of the purpose of the 5-fold ministry it is to “train up the Believers” so THEY will do the work of the ministry and touch their world. The focus on the “Professional Minister” in America has assumed that the Pastor does the work of the ministry – but that was never the intent as found in Eph 4:11ff. We Pastors get sucked into this faulty job description and wear ourselves out in more ways than one.

  • Lucas

    One big issue I see with small church pastors is the inability to delegate effectively. Letting people have authority is what makes churchgoers feel like owners. It’s what makes people feel invested in your church. Sitting in your pew does not make people feel invested in a church. Having responsibility and getting to do well with that responsibility makes people enjoy being a part of your team. Many times, it’s not that others won’t share the load with the pastor, it’s that he won’t LET others share the load. It reminds me of a kid on a playground. He wants the kids to stand around him, but he wants to be the only one on the swing. And then he cries when everyone runs over to the slide.

    • Gabriella

      @ Lucas: so verrrrrrry true! Just experienced this and realized the pastor was only interested in dictating what he thought should be done–not listening to what a church member thought the HOLY SPIRIT was leading that individual to do. . .

      • HAL9000

        Oh really? And who gave you the ability to look into the soul of another and judge whether or not the Holy Spirit was leading him?

        • Tony Parton

          Hal, who is it that has hurt you in the church? I sense your frustration and your anger towards the Pastors here and can’t help but wonder where it came from?
          There are some Pastor’s out there who are, quite frankly Demonic agents of Satan sent to pervert and destroy the Lords efforts from the inside out. That is the nature of a God focussed organisation in a worldly god focused nation. And it is absolutely right to be angry with those who betray the Church (that is the people who are Christian) and the Lord in this way.
          It isn’t right to attack all who hold the position of Pastor because of the failings of a beligarent few. A Pastor proves the need for spiritual guidance and a church may very well suck the marrow out of the poor chap. Yet still he faithfully soldiers on. I’m reminded of Spurgeon, and Charles Simeon who ministered through some awful tragedies and heart break and hatred.
          Please reconsider your position and if necessary change or come to church. See for yourself what your pastor has to do for each member of the church and those of the extended congregation. Realise that a Pastors night is not sacrosanct and that he will often be woken at 3am to address a family crisis where often the only thing they can do is pray for and cry with those who they love with all their hearts.
          Please redress your negative approach towards these brave men, and (Because so few men are chosen to answer the call because so few real men exist anymore) chosen women. Realise that when the chips are down and your life is at it’s absolutely lowest ebb you may need to speak with such a person. How hurt will you feel at yourself for despising those whose call is to go into the world and serve the Lord by loving it in all its sick fragility.
          I would like you to know that I’m praying for you as I write this. I suspect that there is quite a large amount of resentment that goes deep. I think the best thing you could do is to approach a Pastor and discuss the reason for it. And may I ask that all of the Pastors on here pray for Hal9000 also. I really do feel that he needs it.
          Be blessed all. X

          • HAL9000

            Tony, you’ve got me wrong here; nobody in the church has hurt me but I’ll take all the prayers I can get, thanks. I actually took umbrage with the article itself (see my comments above with Tsatryan). My comments sprinkled around here are directed to pastors and laypeople who seem a little overly judgmental. Personally, I think it’s okay for the laypeople to expect a higher standard from their pastors. If one were to “take up the Cross” and lead a flock, I assume that somewhere along the line in seminary or somewhere, someone would have warned them about the difficulties. “Gladly the Cross I’d Bear,” eh?

        • Gabriella

          @HAL9000: Maybe I was not clear in my reply to Lucas. I WAS the individual who felt the Holy Spirit was leading me to an action and the pastor disagreed. . . i prayed about it and felt that I needed to respond to the direction of the Holy Spirit more than I needed to be worried about an individual’s (the pastor’s) approval, because ultimately, I will answer to God for my response. Me alone. Not with the pastor standing by to explain for me.

  • kathy

    Let’s see: I would like to address each of these individually:
    (1) Criticism: Now, really, who doesn’t get criticism on the job? raise your hand? No one? right!
    ok, then we have:

    (2) Rejection, (3) Betrayal (4) Loneliness: Uh, you belong to the human race. Congratulations. Everyone also deals with these.

    (5) Weariness (6) Frustrations & Disappointments: (see my response to 2-4 above)

    What I am saying here is, Pastors, you really don’t deal with anything that anyone in your congregation is not/has not/will not have to deal with at some point.

    Maybe that is why we are supposed to encourage one another?

    • John

      Kathy, I fully agree with what you are saying that pastors don’t deal with anything that others in the congregation don’t deal with. I have a BA in business and 18 years of running two different businesses and then went into the ministry as a pastor for almost 20 yrs. Pastoring is the most challenging job I’ve ever had (and the most rewarding!)…hands down. I think the difference is that most pastors approach their congregation as their family and develop a love and caring for them that cannot be duplicated in the secular world… that is why all of those relational issues are so magnified in the pastorate. When a member leaves it’s like having a family member leave… when criticized, it’s coming from a family member, etc. The flip side is true also… the joy is so much greater because it “is” family!

    • doggymcnuggets

      Kathy: I worked in the finance industry for 10 years, then went to seminary and became a pastor as a 2nd career. I agree that everyone who works experiences all of those things at one time or another. I am grateful that I worked for a decade in a non-ministry profession as it helps me to understand the challenges & demands of those I minister to.
      That said, when I worked in finance I had a work environment, a church environment, a social environment, and a family environment – and those contexts were fairly distinct with some occasional overlap here and there.
      My boss might hassle me during the week, but I didn’t have to deal with him socially outside of work or on weekends or when I went to church. I could complain to my friends about my boss without concern that it would get back to him & without having to care how my complaints would affect their perception of him (since they didn’t know him). I could ask my Sunday school class to pray for a friend I was having issues with since that friend was anonymous to them.
      In ministry, my work environment is also my church environment which is also my social environment which is largely my family environment (neither my nor my wife’s extended family live in the state where we minister). Everything is pretty much rolled up into one big bundle, and discouragements in one area seep into every other area. A problem with a church member is a problem with a friend, a church brother/sister, and a person I deal with at work – all at the same time. For me that is what, in part, makes ministry a unique vocation compared to my former jobs.
      The flip side is that there are some really neat things about ministry – flexibility of schedule, doing something I truly care about (deeply), helping people, sometimes seeing my efforts make an important difference in someone’s life. It’s not all bad by any means, and I’m grateful for the privilege of serving Christ’s church as a pastor. But I would encourage folks to understand the unique demands a pastor faces & to be sensitive to them. You’re right on that we are to encourage one another, and I hope your pastor encourages you & that you do the same for your pastor.

    • Jan

      I totally disagree with you Kathy. At work your children and wife are not attacked. At church they are. In the last 10 years we’ve had an individual every 6 months who decided to start some rumor in our community about our family.
      Both of us have been in the private sector as well as in ministry. Yeah you get drama there, but NOTHING like in church ministry. And you can’t ever get away.
      At least at work I can come home and experience some measure of peace.
      But not in a parsonage, next door to the church.

    • Mike Armistead

      Kathy, Though there is a degree of truth to what you say, I totally disagree with your harsh assessment overall. Let me add another feature that pastors have to deal with that you don’t see in most business setting. It’s called spiritual warfare. There are diabolical forces trying to stymie every effort of church to move forward. We are not fighting against flesh and blood, but powers and principalities, and they do not want any ministry to succeed. So you see good church people – believers all – go up in flames in gossip, affairs, fights, tiffs, and more, and that sabotages years of effort to help a church carry out its mission. Likewise today’s churches are full of consumers who say they want a preacher who preaches the Bible and can help them grow, but when they get one who does, they often quickly rebel because it upsets the club that the church has become. It is also a painful endeavor to depend financially on the people you are trying to lead spiritually. When you get word your biggest giver or givers are compromising their Christian principles in some way, you are left with staying silent to protect your paycheck, or confronting them and experiencing what they may do in retaliation. That’s not something you have in the retail business world. All the while you are carrying the spiritual burdens of a hundred or several hundred individuals who expect you to be perfect but have loads of grace for all their failures. Life has its pains and disappointment for all of us, that’s for sure. But when you are called to the care of souls, and you lay your own soul on the line for them in the name of God, the emotional and spiritual weight is magnified to a great degree.

  • Diane Jones

    To Pastors and Pastor’s Wife: make sure you take time off. Laugh. Develop a good sense of humor. “A cheerful heart is good medicine…” Prov. 17:22

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.n.colbert Rebecca Northey Colbert

    How about the Secret Pain of Pastor’s Wives
    1. Isolation – Just as the pastor has to be careful about who he befriends his wife has to be equally astute! Think about how important relationships are to a woman and then consider how many people in a church the PW can befriend deeply. It is very easy to become isolated because we cannot share our disappointments and joys with anyone in the one place where we could find close relationships.

    2. Anger – People say the cruelest things about your husband as if they forget you are married to him! It is very difficult to leave this lie. My husband is a man of incredible integrity and when someone calls that into question I really would like to give them a piece of my mind. But I can’t! It won’t be helpful and I have to always choose to be the bigger person.

    3. Discouragement – Seeing people leave, scraping a living off a meager budget because of a low salary while watching people in the church take luxury vacations and live in $200,000 houses, hearing people gossip about your husband or other staff, etc can make you wonder why you agreed to this gig in the first place and make you wonder if you should continue.

    4. The Kids – Some truly ugly things happen at church and it can be hurtful and difficult to explain these things to our children. When they ask why their friends left church or why someone said something not nice about daddy, what are we supposed to say. We, personally have always been very honest with our kids about these things but it is unpleasant to say the least. They also live in a fishbowl. People have some unfair and unrealistic expectations for PKs. We have had to deal with people saying some pretty stupid things to and about our kids. Again, we always have to be the bigger person and know that sometimes these people walk away thinking they “won” the discussion. Church can really damage a PK’s idea of what church should be and maybe even drive them away.

    5. Unfair Expectations – How many times have PWs been asked if they can play the piano or sing or do both. Not all of us can! How many hours of unpaid work do PWs put in because things need to be done and “the pastor’s wife can do it” not to mention the fact that churches basically get two for one when they hire our hubbies! Even if we don’t do much at church every time he is called for an emergency or stays awake at night about something we do too. How many hours do we spend praying with and for our husbands, helping them discern what to do about a situation at church, counseling them and rebuilding their self-esteem because others have ruthlessly torn them down? We are expected to be perfect mothers and wives, always look great, keep our mouths shut and have perfect children.

    6. Our husband is our pastor – think about that. If I am struggling with something who do I go to. Most of the time I can go to my husband because he is my husband but sometimes he is busy with someone else. Not only that but if I need to talk to someone and don’t want to share it with my husband yet, who do I talk to? It is hard to have a conversation with your pastor as your pastor when he is also your husband.

    7. We go to church where our husband works – It can be very difficult for us to feel that we get to go to church. There have been times when that is how it is. I go to my husbands office once a week because I have to. I go to this church because this is where my husband pastors and I don’t really like this church. How many other people go through that.

    Fortunately, the church where we pastor is wonderful and I don’t have too many times when I have these negative feelings although I have gone through them all. My husband and I talk frequently and he is very responsive when I remind him that our family needs him, too, or that it has been a long time since we spent time together without talking about church. We are best friends so it helps us do this job that we love and hate at the same time! I don’t feel too many unfair expectations and so far our kids seem to be doing great. We have walked them through some difficult times with people leaving and have always tried to be truthful with them about how a church is made up of all kinds of people and that we can do only do our part. We have a great elder board that really looks out for us as a family and my husband’s well-being. I do sometimes feel a little forgotten and left out when thanks and praises are being handed out but that is mostly ok.

    The best thing anyone can do for me and my kids is love my husband and pray for him and us! While we knew darn well what things job could entail, we chose to answer the call and all that comes with it. We thank God often for our great congregation and the amazing kids He has blessed us with. Mostly, we are humbled that He has chosen to use us in this capacity!

    • doggymcnuggets

      Amen Rebecca! I am a pastor and see weekly the sacrifices my wife makes. She gets a lot of the blood, sweat, & tears but much less recognition for her service. Most pastors’ wives should be getting a paycheck for all they do!

    • http://mike-collins.net/ Mike Collins

      Looks like you have some great material for an article of your own. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mfundisi

    Thanks for this eye opener.
    I had been absent from the ministers meetings due to the fact that others seemed to be doing well.
    And some of them were now pastoring some of the people that were active members at our church.

    I felt betrayed especially when they would àsk me to visit them in the hospitals or other facilities.

    Again,

    Thanks

    Ben

  • Charles G. Ballard

    I fought going into the ministry for nine years, but when I surrendered to God’s will, I didn’t want to leave. I was in 22 years and had to retire because of health problems. It was a sad day for me when I turned my resignation to my church. I loved my people and they loved me . I had the best church in the world, I was there for 7 years. It was the hardest decision of my life.

  • Felicidad Delos Santos Villamo

    I have been pastoring for 20 years now. I have my own sets of pain and disappointments but one thing I have learned through the years, that we need to Encounter God daily, so as not to be stressed out in ministry. One thing more, I’ve learned to put my family next to God before ministry. Doing this made me an even more effective shepherd of the flock that God has entrusted me. People entrust me with their families because they have seen that I do really love them just like I love my family. Still, there are those who choose to leave the church. I do not have grudges for them but rather just pray that they will still be able to continue in the faith. The good news is that people who left us for other ministry still visit us from time to time, isn’t that wonderful! Pastors, remember, we do not own the ministry or the people, Jesus own it. Having the right perspective will help us do our calling with joy no matter what the circumstances are in the ministry. God bless you and do business till Christ returns!

    • Lawrence

      Thank you sir.

    • Cindy

      Rev. Villamo: bless you in your ministry. You ‘get’ it. Amen. May your number increase.

  • Honestdave

    Many of them have a lower self image from being beaten down by narcissistic, power hungry laypersons.

    • HAL9000

      Wow honestdave. Are you a pastor? Are you honest enough to say that to your congregation? Do you usually talk to your flock like this or do you just hop onto blogs like this and hide like a coward behind a pseudonym? If this is your true attitude toward your congregation, consider getting out of the game

      By the way, “power hungry” is hyphenated.

      • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

        Wow, HAL9000. Are YOU a pastor? And, talk about “hiding behind a pseudonym,” did your parent’s really name you like a future-computer? Every comment you have posted in this thread is to put down and berate others. Is this how YOU usually talk?

        • HAL9000

          No tsatryan, you’re missing the point. All over this blog, pastors are talking about their “job.” Is being a pastor a job or a calling? If it’s a job, then stop griping and get another job. If it’s a calling, revel in it; don’t complain about what God has called you to do. And no, I’m not a pastor but I observe them a lot. There are so many people in this world who gravitate to a particular vocation without a calling from God. Those to whom God has spoken (as evidenced here) seem to be unhappy with one or more aspects of their calling. For those in the workaday world with no calling from God, this all seems pretty puzzling. Anyway, if Honestdave were your pastor and was referring to individuals in his flock as “narcissistic, power-hungry laypersons,” wouldn’t that give you pause?

          • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

            First, HAL9000, thank you for replying in a tone that is not judgmental. I appreciate it, and I’m sure others reading it do, too. To your comment, no, I am not missing the point at all. Quite the contrary, I believe you are the one missing the point. You stated you aren’t a pastor, but I knew that already, because if you were a pastor, you would never have made any of the comments you previously made. You may have observed pastors all your life. But, with all due respect, you truly have no clue at all as to what their life entails. If you were a pastor, what the author of this column states would resonate with you, rather than causing the reaction you have.

            I am a pastor, and have been for over 40 years. Are my parishioners “narcissistic, power-hungry laypersons”? No, they are not. But through the years, there have been a certain number of such individuals, as well as others that would need to be described by these and/other adjectives. Most of those people I truly believe do not fully comprehend the damage they do to pastors and their families. They are “well-intentioned dragons,” so to speak, who most likely believe they are serving a greater good by the things they do and say. But, as the article’s author states better than I could, and as studies have shown and statistics have proven time and time again, there are scores of folks who have sensed beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has called them into the ministry, but when times come where these “dragons” mount a more solidified and concentrated attack on them, they turn away from their calling.

            I know this personally. But, I also know this from speaking with scores of others in ministry. I not only pastor, but I am a coach and a confident to many others in ministry.

            To those reading this who are not called as a pastor, please, please, follow the prayer directives of this article. Please pray for your pastor. Please support him/her. Please encourage them. They need it. I need it.

          • HAL9000

            Tsatryan- You’re welcome. Maybe I don’t or can’t get the point but you may not be able to get mine either. You’re a pastor; I’m not. I’m a layperson; you’re not. I’ve seen a succession of pastors come and go; some good, some not; some overly strong and pushy, some meek and complacent. But when an article like this comes along claiming that pastors have one of the four hardest jobs in the world, laypeople like me might take umbrage with that. Perhaps the author didn’t mean for it to come off that way, but it can seem like a jab in the eye to the layperson who labors 16 hours a day at a meaningless or repetitive job, the healthcare worker who helplessly watches patient after patient die while feeling futile, the school teacher who works tirelessly in an inner-city school trying to help their impoverished charges rise above the squalor all for a paycheck that is a joke. And these people probably didn’t have God whisper in their ear “be a teacher, be a doctor, be a dockworker.” Every vocation has its perks and its detriments.

            Look at Jehovah-Rapha’s response to me above. “Go sit in a corner and be quiet?” I’m curious. JR sounds like an ex-pastor. How would you respond to him?

            All I’m saying is that there are a couple of viewpoints from which to examine this. If the pastors want a private chat-room in which they can air their grievances privately, fine; I could care less. But if this stuff is going into an open and public forum when anyone can respond, don’t become indignant when someone disagrees. It’s probably not a perfect system but it’s what we have.

          • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

            I (hopefully) would respond to Jehovah-Rapha as I would to anyone – in love. One must always look not just at the words being said, but why they were said. My guess is that Jehovah-Rapha was responding with an attitude that reflected the attitude he perceived you were giving, and it stung him. I am not justifying his verbiage, just explaining it.

            I do understand that there are difficulties in anyone’s life and field of work. No one disputes that. And, I surely want to be empathetic toward anyone walking a difficult road.

            That being said, there are things that are completely unique about vocational ministry. It would be beyond the scope of a response in a thread to attempt to elaborate on all of them. But, suffice it to say, the calling into the ministry is one of great privilege and blessing, but also many times fraught with frustration and disappointment. This is compounded when those you are charged with caring for and nurturing turn around and do harm to you. Pastoral ministry is a 24/7 vocation, where your entire life – social, spiritual and vocational – are all wrapped together. In nearly any other “occupation” you leave at the end of the work day, and you have a “social life” that is removed from your occupation. Not so in the ministry. Your entire life literally IS your “occupation.” Hence, any difficulties experienced are multiplied to a factor well beyond that of nearly any other occupation.

            I am fairly certain that unless you have first-hand experience at this, it is nearly impossible to understand. Perhaps “PK’s” (preacher’s kids) may understand this almost as well as a pastor, but even not entirely as much as a pastor would.

            HAL, I don’t expect you to completely understand. And, I do appreciate that this conversation has turned civil and rational. Could I ask you to set aside any perceived inequalities in this, and instead, in the love of Christ, give honor to those whom honor is due (1 Timothy 5:17), and pray for and encourage your pastor (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Discipline yourself to not look for the negative, but rather to be a blessing to others, most especially to your pastor.

          • HAL9000

            Now we’re talking at cross purposes. My entire thesis has been that the difficulties encountered by a pastor may be different from the layperson’s working in the world but you imply an inequality where I believe none exists. I’ve been a layperson all my life and have observed the complex problems that a variety of work situations bring. I see no difference between those of the layperson and those of the clergy. And don’t discount my proximity to pastors; my experience is quite first-hand and intimate. I’ve seen pastors who could handle it and would scoff at this article, those who allowed the pressures to affect their work and those who did the minimum to avoid controversy and still folded like a taco.

            I appreciate your words of encouragement; you seem like a good guy. I usually don’t look for the negative unless it’s paraded on display for all to see.

          • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

            Hal, once again – the key words in what you just said are “I see no difference.” And, you are exactly right. You don’t see. You can’t. You can’t see what you are not able to see. You can try to assert yourself, and inject thoughts, but it simply is not possible for you to fully see. The difference for you will be to either recognize that you can not see, and then choose to accept there are challenges in ministry that are significantly different than other “occupations,” or maintain that those who share with other about such difficulties, and some, like the author of this article, attempt to help, are merely “tilting at windmills.” Your choice. But, your choice will not change reality. I do wish you well.

          • Fernando Villegas

            I doubt you’re still following this thread, but just in case…

            I am a pastor, so I am coming from the same point of view as you are. But I have to say, I do agree with Hal in that none of the problems described in the article that pastors face are problems that are UNIQUE to the pastoral vocation. Nor can I say that pastors experience these problems to a significantly higher degree than those who are not pastors.

            You see, after many years of ministering to my church members, entering their lives and hearing their stories from their point of view, I’ve come to realize that the challenges they face are no lesser than the ones I face. And we all have the exact same solution to our common challenges: learning to live by the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is poured out on all.

            Someone mentioned on here that one of the good things about this article is that it encourages pastors by letting them know that they are not alone–other pastors face the same problems they face. I would agree, but I think we need to take it even further. We as pastors need to fight the temptation to isolate ourselves from our church members (yes, much of the loneliness we feel is unintentionally self-imposed) and realize that not only do other pastors face the same problems that we do, but our church members also face the same problems that we do. There really is no difference, and I don’t say that because I “can’t” see. I say it because I CAN see. I can see that regardless of who we are or what titles we wear, we are ALL frail human beings with the same ultimate challenge: trying to live out the life of Christ together in a world that rejects Christ and crucifies him any chance they get.

            Look at the list again. Each one of these problems is something that Jesus faced. These are not problems unique to pastors. These are problems that all Christians will face and DO face. We are all in this together. We all depend on the same grace to sustain us.

            I do not question the author’s motives, and I am glad that many have been encouraged by the article. Nevertheless, the article does unintentionally communicate an attitude that is ultimately unhelpful. We gain nothing by believing that our church members just don’t “get us.”

            Perhaps it is WE who don’t get them!

          • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

            I appreciate your response, but I respectfully disagree. While pastors and parishioners alike face problems and difficulties, it is only those in vocational ministry who, if their job is terminated for whatever particular reason, they lost not only their job and their source of income, but also their entire social circle. In America, where we have an inbred desire for a “democratic” form of government, we unfortunately have superimposed that style of governance upon the church, which is not a biblical form or structure.

          • Fernando Villegas

            “it is only those in vocational ministry who, if their job is terminated for whatever particular reason, they lost not only their job and their source of income, but also their entire social circle.”

            I’m not sure on what basis you make that assertion. If my “job” as a pastor were to be terminated for whatever reason, I would not lose my entire social circle. I have many wonderful friends within my congregations that I would remain friends with even if I was no longer the pastor. Not to mention the many friends that I have outside the congregation, such as neighbors and old friends from school.

            If one’s entire social circle is dependent on one’s job (like being a pastor), something is seriously wrong.

            In fact, I have known a few (not pastors) who were so immersed in their work that they had no life outside of it. Were they to lose their jobs, they would in fact lose their entire social circle, as you described. But this is not a healthy situation to be in, whether or not one is a pastor.

            So I don’t see how the problem you described is even INHERENT within the pastoral vocation, much less UNIQUE to it.

          • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

            Well, we can agree to disagree. However, the mere fact that an article like this was written serves to prove my point.

          • Fernando Villegas

            I’m fine with disagreeing, it’s not a big deal.

            But I fail to see how “the mere fact that an article like this was written serves to prove [your] point.”

            I doesn’t “prove” your point at all. All it “proves” is that pastors face problems such as criticism, rejection, betrayal, loneliness, weariness, and frustrations/disappointments. But that has not been our disagreement. Our disagreement has been whether or not these problems are UNIQUE to the pastoral vocation (i.e. that these specific problems ONLY occur to those who are pastors, and no one else) or that pastors experience these problems to a SIGNIFICANTLY GREATER DEGREE than those who are not pastors.

            Remember, I am a full-time pastor, just like you. So I know that you and I face these problems, and I know to what degree we face them.

            But all it takes is a little less self-centeredness and a little more empathy, on my part, to see that those I minister to face these same problems, and they face them to the same degree.

            And you know what? THAT is a huge encouragement for me. Because as I minister to these people who face these exact same problems as I do, I realize that I need ministry from them as well, and they DO minister to me.

            That is what the Bible says: “Encourage one another and build one another up.”

            And no pastor, nor any Christian for that matter, can really encourage and build up another Christian, nor be encouraged and built up by another Christian, when they hold to an attitude that believes, “My problems are bigger than your problems.”

            So, like I said, I don’t mind if you disagree with me. But nothing you nor the author has written has proven your point, and we do ourselves no favors by pretending something is true, when it really isn’t.

            I have written to you, not to prove my own point nor to get you to agree with me, but rather because I have never found any help nor encouragement in the “A pastor’s problems are worse than their members’ problems” attitude.

            But I have found INCREDIBLE help and encouragement in the “We all share together in Christ’s sufferings, and we all are sustained together by Christ’s grace” attitude.

            I simply invite you to try that approach, and see if it might not turn out to be a blessing to you as well.

          • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

            I have never said that the problems of those in the ministry are greater than those who are not. I have simply stated, as I believe the author of the article believes, that the problems are different. You don’t seem to believe this, and perhaps you have never experienced any of these “unique” situations. I have. And I know of scores of others who have, as well.

            While I appreciate the tenor of your comments, I do take exception to your implication that I (and others who do understand what I am saying) need to be “less self-centered and more empathetic” to others. I have never thought, nor believed, that “my problems are bigger than your problems.”

            As for proving my point, all I am implying is that since this article has been written, it does indeed serve to prove that there are many pastors who DO resonate with the author’s thoughts. You, like anyone, certainly may disagree with his thoughts, but your opinion and your experience does not negate those of scores of others.

          • Fernando Villegas

            Let’s try to clarify what each other is exactly trying to say. I am not saying that the problems pastors face are not DIFFERENT than the ones others face. I am saying that they are not UNIQUE to the pastoral vocation.

            Here’s what I mean by that: a pastor very well may experience rejection in a different way than someone who is not a pastor. BUT…those who are not pastors ALSO experience rejection (even if it is in a different way). Therefore, rejection itself is not unique to the pastoral vocation.

            Or, let’s take the problem you described earlier: the loss of one’s entire social circle upon being terminated from a job. Like I said, that is something that can also happen to someone who is not a pastor. Therefore, that problem is not unique to the pastoral vocation. Yes, the pastor will experience the problem differently. But the problem itself is not unique.

            See, the problem word here is “unique.” If Mr. Wagner had simply written: “Some of the problems pastors commonly face are…,” I would’ve had no issues. But twice, Mr. Wagner uses the word “unique.” This word draws a distinction between the problems of pastors and those of non-pastors; a distinction which, in my mind, is not only unhelpful, but in fact is actually hurtful to coping with these problems.

            “perhaps you have never experienced any of these ‘unique’ situations.”

            I don’t know how you possibly came to that conclusion when I specifically wrote the following: “Remember, I am a full-time pastor, just like you. So I know that you and I face these problems, and I know to what degree we face them.”

            I know these problems because I HAVE experienced them. Every single one of them.

            “And I know of scores of others who have, as well.” As do I. But I ALSO know scores of others who are NOT pastors who have also experienced, even if in different ways, every single one of these problems that you seem to believe are “unique” to the pastoral vocation.

            One of the things I’ve learned as from years of pastoral counseling is that, in the midst of their hurt, EVERYONE believes their problems are unique. But they aren’t. And true healing begins with the recognition that they aren’t alone, that others also face the same problems they do, and the same grace that sustains others will sustain them as well. That is necessary not only on an individual level, but also on a corporate level as pastors in general. We as pastors will have a difficult time healing from our hurt as long as we continue to believe that are problems are unique to our vocation. They aren’t.

            I am sorry that you took exception to something I wrote, but in no way did I imply that you or others needed to be less self-centered and more empathetic. In fact, I intentionally added the phrase “on my part” precisely so that no one would infer that. What I wrote, I wrote for me, out of my own experience. I don’t know you. How would I know how self-centered or how empathetic you are? What do I possibly gain by making such assumptions about you? So, no, of course I did not intend to insult you in any way; and I tried to be clear about that, but I hope this explanation makes it clearer.

            Although, the thought just occurs to me, I don’t really see how the idea of anyone, myself included, being less self-centered and more empathetic would be a BAD thing!

            “since this article has been written, it does indeed serve to prove that there are many pastors who DO resonate with the author’s thoughts.” Like I said, that is not our point of disagreement, so there is no need to keep trying to prove a point that we both agree on. The point you would need to prove is that only pastors experience criticism, only pastors experience rejection, only pastors experience betrayal, etc. Because that is what it would mean for those problems to be unique to pastors.

            Now, of course if you DON’T believe that only pastors experience criticism, rejections, betrayal, etc., then you really DON’T believe that these problems are unique, just that they are different. And if that is the case, then apparently, we are saying the same thing after all, and through conversation we have been able to discover our fundamental agreement with each other.

            However, I would then caution you to be careful about how you articulate yourself. Because the way the the article is worded, and the way you and others have commented, if you look at it from the perspective of a lay-person, CAN unintentionally communicate a “clergy-laity divide” that is both unbiblical, and unhelpful.

            So, no, my opinion and my experience do not “negate those of score of others,” of course. But my experience DOES negate the assertion that the problems listed in the article are unique to the pastoral vocation.

            Our problems are different, yes. But they are not unique.

          • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

            You certainly have spent a considerable amount of time trying to prove a difference between “different” and “unique.” I think you are splitting hairs. I would never say – and in fact I haven’t said – that the laity do not experience problems in life that are just as difficult as those of clergy. But, I am saying, the problems that modern clergy experience are certainly different in many ways (hence unique). If you want to split hairs over that, then go for it. And, although you say you are sorry that I have taken exception to something you have previously said, you have now continued to bring admonishment by saying that you would caution me to be careful about how I articulate myself. My friend, that is rather like the pot calling the kettle black.

            We both most likely agree more than we disagree on this thing, and find ourselves arguing over semantics.

            As for me, I am bowing out of this conversation. I have expressed my thoughts, feelings and beliefs. They are what they are, and there is nothing really more for me to add. I do wish you well, and pray His blessing upon you.

          • Fernando Villegas

            We are both Christians, and I think it would be well that we both give each other the benefit of the doubt.

            Most of what we communicate is non-verbal, things like tone of voice, body language, etc. I’ve read that only about forty percent of what we communicate is the actual words that we use. Unfortunately, in this kind of forum, words are all that we have, so it is very easy to misunderstand and misinterpret each other. I’ve seen it all the time, as I’m sure you have as well.

            What I’m saying is that I have no ill will towards you, that I’m not trying to “admonish” you, or anything like that. I’m simply trying to have a conversation. There is no need to become defensive, for I make no accusations. If you and I were having this conversation in person, it would be obvious by the rest of my non-verbal communication–which cannot be expressed here–that my words have a very different meaning than they may appear to have in a purely written form. Nothing I’ve written has been intended against you personally. Again, I do not know you personally, so why would I try to admonish you?

            Furthermore, it is precisely because all we have here are words, absent their non-verbal context, that we have to be more careful about the words we use, about how we articulate ourselves. That is all I meant by that comment–nothing insidious was intended.

            So what I’ve been doing is not “splitting hairs.” The words “different” and “unique” are similar. But there is enough nuance between the two so that using one or the other may unintentionally communicate to another something one does not intend to communicate.

            Let me illustrate: as you are a pastor, I’m sure you probably know at least some Greek, enough to know that Greek is a more precise language than English. For example, there are two words that we usually translate with the one English word “another.” “allos” roughly means, “another of the same kind,” “eteros” roughly means, “another of a different kind.” These words are similar enough that we translate them with the same English word. But there is an important distinction between them that must be kept in mind in order to properly understand what is being communicated.

            The same can be said with the English words “different” and “unique.” They are similar enough so that they can be used interchangeably. However, there is an important distinction between the two so that if they are used interchangeably, someone else might pick up a meaning that was not intended.

            So, I don’t think we’ve been simply arguing over semantics. In fact, I have never felt that we’ve been arguing at all. What I’ve seen in our conversation is two brothers in Christ, clarifying our terms, seeking to understand not just what we mean, but also what we don’t mean, so that we are on the same page.

            And look what happens when we are on the same page: it turns out we really don’t disagree as much as it initially appeared! You wrote: “the problems that modern clergy experience are certainly different in many ways (hence unique).” And I agree with that, because I now have a clearer understanding of what you mean and what you don’t mean! (By the way, Hal agreed with that to, and said so in so many words.) I simply would try to word that in a more precise way, such as “modern clergy experience criticism, rejection, betrayal, etc., in a unique way.” This asserts the uniqueness of the experience without denying the self-evident fact that others do, in fact, also experience criticism, rejection, betrayal, etc.

            Anyway, this was not viewed on my part as an argument, and I’m sorry that you saw it as one. But I appreciate you taking the time to share this conversation with me. I feel I have a much clearer understanding of what you are saying, and I hope you do of me as well.

          • Jerry Edmonds

            HAL, let me help you understand. Name any other profession where fratricide happens while the person committing it is someone that you are called to love and care for, and who tells you they are doing it “in love”, while they watch you bleed out and die without lifting a finger to help.

            I realize this is a generalization, but hey, you’ve been using them too so you must in fairness allow me to do the same.

            Still signing with my real name,

          • Bill

            Tsatryan- I have spent 21 years in Pastoral Ministry and 16 years in both Private and Public secular work. I can tell you without hesitation that the pressures of pastoring far exceed the pressures I encounter in secular work, at similar levels of leadership and responsibility. Until you have worked in both spheres for a significant period of time you cannot speak with credibility on this topic. Your assessment and judgment on pastors you have had does not speak well of your spiritual maturity. Perhaps what you have written is not a typical reflection of your heart. I sincerely hope that it is not. As a pastor, and as a layperson, I have come across many lay people in leadership who are there because of force of personality, financial donations to the church or family ties in the church, who have serious lacks in displaying the fruits of the spirit. Yet, these folks attempt to evaluate, direct and even control their pastor.
            As a layperson, I am very grateful to be in a church that chooses its lay leaders based on their character, humility, transparency and compassion for people.
            I can tell you that the pressure on a pastor and family are extraordinary. They are targets for spiritual and social attacks from within the church and from outside of it. I many small churches, the pastor, in effect has each member of the church trying to act as their boss, giving conflicting and often un-scriptural direction on how the pastor should lead, teach and live.
            I pray that God will open your eyes to the great blessing each pastor you have is to you. May he help to turn your eyes inward to allow God to work on your own life and character as your primary spiritual focus.

          • Bill

            Sorry, should have addressed this one to HAL9000, not Tsatryan

          • Jehovah-Rapha

            Hal, it is people like you why I got out of the ministry. I know fully how pastors are treated, been there and done that. Did you think for a moment that this is a place to vent instead of doing it to their flock. You say you are not a pastor, well, go sit in the corner and be quiet, or better yet, go spend 4 years getting a degree, 2 more to get your MA, and a few more to get your Dr. then and only then will you understand what its like to have the responsibility of dealing with people’s eternal destiny.

  • Jan

    And pray for his family. It’s not easy being married to a pastor. The pastor’s wife goes through many of the same things.

    • HAL9000

      Nice; your inference that all pastors are men and their wives go through the same thing. What do you think the effect might be on husbands of female pastors?

  • Jerry Can

    So here’s an article on a website primarily geared for pastors, etc. This self-involved, “poor me” article is probably fun for pastors and their ilk to read but it’s being shared on Facebook and Twitter. Now pastors are able to put it out there and make comments like “everyone in my congregation ought to read this.” When people use words like “ought” and “should.” they are essentially using a manipulator. The congregation reads this, feels guilty and, hopefully begins behaving in a way that suits the pastor.

    Really underhanded.

    • http://mike-collins.net/ Mike Collins

      You are assuming a lot of negative intent on the part of pastors sharing this.

  • Jerilyn Barlowe

    As a pastor’s wife AMEN

  • Jacob Park

    It really depends on the church you are at…

  • Lewis Hiza

    Great. Gave me another step forward.. God bless you Phillip Wagner.

  • http://twitter.com/kasedoggy kasedoggy

    amen. amen. amen.

  • Let Peace Be Still

    What an amazing article! Thank you so much for the transparency and Godly encouragement.

  • Tony Parton

    To the 40% who are considering leaving, or rather to the 60% who are rock solid. Remember 2 Tim. Paul, stuck in a hole in the ground has heard that Tim is struggling with the same issues that all modern pastors face. Too young, too energetic… just too anything and the church is ready to pounce. Remember Paul’s situation? Days if not weeks away from having his head removed and all he asked for himself was his cloak and his books.
    So, to the 60% who seem a little more solid… BE PAUL!!!!! We are custodians of Christ’s Holy Bride. This poor, fragile, abused and schyzophrenic virgin bride of the saved Jesus Christ has become our ward. How will we present her to the Son before the Father?
    Emotionally scarred by decades of in-fighting and outwardly dressing down her right hand while forcing the left to sin? Arminian, Calvinist, Baptist even Catholic? What are we doing to her?
    So, I’ll say again. To the 60% who seem a little solid… Be Paul! Grab the 40% and create your own Timothy. Nurture, love and inspire these, often young men. Instil them with a fearsome manhood that can only serve the Lord. Instruct them on wiser pastoral and preaching practices. Take money from your church and offer it to a struggling church.
    Let’s face it, we are not alone. The lord is with us and guides each of us. However there will come a time when we need some outside help. So, if you are reading this and you’re pastor a church in a community with other churches close by, pick your phone up, chat to the other pastors of those churches, meet for coffee’s and weekly prayer meetings and lets reclothe the Lords future wife in a dress of unity, rather than the straight jacket she’s been forced to don for her own safety as we slowly drive her insane.
    I’m praying for you and love you all. Please don’t see this as a pointed rebuke, rather as a nudge towards having soft hearts beneath that tough leather skin.

  • chorded

    I’m lost as to how these things ONLY apply to pastors. It’s the human condition … nothing more. People in leadership roles, regardless of industry, need to find a balance. As a leader, you will have all of these things happen to you. Leaders have more responsibilities than followers. Since the bible gives us rules for boundaries to protect us, maybe pastors need to be doing the same thing … setting healthy boundaries. Perhaps, even though it is a secular book, a pastor might benefit from reading “integrity, the courage to meet the demands of reality” by Dr. Henry Cloud. Compare and contrast it with scripture and see what you might be missing from scripture. Sometimes, all it takes is another perspective to make the light bulb go on…

    • Crack

      Chorded, I am on board with you. Churches these days run themselves like businesses with head pastor/CEOs. The problems described in this article belong to the landscape of being the head cheese in any organization. The New Testament church does not appear to have operated this way. The burden of leadership in the church should be one that is shared by the church, the people, right? You are correct in that if churches are going to operate like businesses, they need to break out some flow charts, business leadership books, and attend some personal growth seminars on how to take care of employees and customers. It would probably be a good thing if a lot of pastors left the pulpit, got real jobs and begin having backyard BBQs with their neighbors more often. Some of the folks on here are trying to compare the modern pastor/CEO lone wolf with the New Testament role of shepherd or teacher. We can’t read back into scripture if we are sound students of exegesis and hermeneutics.

      • Cindy

        AMEN. . .AMEN. .. AMEN

      • http://mike-collins.net/ Mike Collins

        Hello “Crack,”

        I agree that a polycentric leadership structure is what Paul encouraged in Ephesians (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers, and Pastors). There is nothing even close to a CEO mentioned in Paul’s most mature reflections on the church and church structure.

        However, I have a hard time believing that a lot of pastors should abandon their pulpits for backyard BBQ’s. That seems too simplistic.

        There has to be a better way.

        • Dave Ekstrom

          Not so sure about the claim of plurality of leadership. The church at Jerusalem appears to have morphed into monepiscopacy by the time of Acts 15 with James as its bishop. Early on the churches in Asia Minor evolved to monepiscopcy. It might even be implied in I Tim. 3 where “bishop” is singular and in Revelation (“THE messenger (singular) of the Churches.”) It is clearly in place in the Epistles of Ignatius, who is addressing a practiced already firmly established. Fact is, all this talk about the organization description of the NT church is misguided. There is no “NT Church.” There are “NT Churches” and a close reading will suggest that the churches had different org charts. The NT does not prescribe a particular org chart. HOW we get it done should be determined by the particular culture we are in as long as the org chart is consistent with biblical principles. Instead of abstractions that we import into the text we should be talking about effectiveness and accountability. A teaching-pastor/executive-pastor combo with a strong board providing accountability might provide a powerful leadership team given the gifts of those involved.

          • http://mike-collins.net/ Mike Collins

            Thanks for sharpening my thinking, Dave. I really do appreciate your comments! I was coming from the standpoint that Christ is the head of the church and that the five fold ministry (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers) embody Chris’s ministry. Some say Ephesians is Paul’s most mature thinking about the church.

            I wholeheartedly agree that much of our talk of ” THE NT church” is misguided, and I like what you said about org charts too.

            What I meant by polycentric leadership is encapsulated in your last suggestion. I think a shared leadership structure is well suited to the emerging culture in the west. I can only speak for my context.

            JR Woodward uses a great example from nature to describe what typical Sr. Pastors go through. He compares an ideal team to a flock of geese flying in formation. They take turns sharing the burden of leadership because one goose isn’t strong enough to fly out front the whole time.

      • Dave Ekstrom

        Crack, sorry, bro, but the psuedo-spiritual babble about churches not being businesses is exactly the problem. When any group of people get together, you’ve got leadership and politics if they are going to be anything other than a mob. When any organization has facilities and budgets, you’ve got economics, management, finances and management issues. Any programs and ministries require recruiting, training and project management. Calendars and budgets ain’t “spiritual” but the church is not going to get anything done without them. If you serve on a church board, do your church a favor and resign. You’re a good guy and you mean well, but it is hippy-like abstractions that you speak of that keep churches from fulfilling their mission. Yeah, let’s all hang out in the backyard enjoying our bbq while multitudes slip into hell and our children are lured off into the world. While our church chronically underperforms, people think that’s ok. The real world demands an effective organized church, not a feel-good social club. And that means leadership, business principles, management, finance, organization, project management, recruiting, training and a whole lot of other stuff. You mean well but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • tired

    My husband and I have been pastoring for almost 25 years. One of our daughters was raped by a former church member, realing her into drugs, alcohol and other abuses. Thankfully, she survived a suicide attempt and this is where the healing began for her. We had no idea. One can only imagine the comments while she was trying to heal herself with drugs, alcohol, etc…, “oh, she’s a pastor’s daughter?!!?”, the judgment and heartache that our family experienced was almost crippling. We were fortunate enough to be pastoring a church that loved us and supported us. Had it not been for the support of our church, we would have surely been in a bad place. We have moved to another pastorate in the last year and I’ve never been so lonely in all my life. Unless you’ve lived in the glass house, kindly keep your stones to yourself.

    • Mary

      Tired-
      I am too! Our son is facing prison time for sexual abuse, and my husband and I also had no idea he was into this type of thing. I face the congregation on the platform each Sunday, and our local paper smeared its front page with all the gory details, humiliating us. It was extremely difficult to get up there each Sunday, put on a joyful face and praise the Lord (as a worship leader). It isn’t over yet. I am in the process of seeking Christian counseling to deal with the actuality of his sentencing. It would be nice to know of an online support group of parents who are serving the Lord who find themselves dealing with this kind of thing in their families. Just to know we’re not alone, and that others have survived. Sure, we know Jesus is always right beside us, but to have other people to encourage us would be helpful.

      • tired

        Mary- I’m so very sorry for all that you and your family have suffered. It takes incredible courage to do what you do in the midst of it all. After our daughter came out about all she had suffered, I found myself very angry. I was angry at God, for ever calling us into the ministry,, angry at my husband and myself for not protecting her and angry at every church member that had ever said hateful, ugly words to my girls (and there were many). I can tell you that Christian counseling saved my life, my marriage and our family. Our daughter went through intense counseling for several months. I went, as well. My prayers are with you and your family. <3

  • Olwin

    I believe Pastors take too much on themselves. That’s why God gave gifts to the church pastors teachers apostles evangelist etc. All church members are called to be in ministry and no
    one individual was ever asked by God to shoulder all the responsibility in the New Testament Church. Think about it. We have placed too much on one of the gifts given to the church. Let’s get back to the original plan and our frustrations will be less man made.

    • Try again

      There we go… an article about the unique challenge pastors face and the many critiques they receive and your first comment is a critique about how pastors are doing it all wrong. Seems entirely unhelpful.

      • Jonny

        Actually, he really has a point. The pastors I know that are completely overworked often act like they are the only ones in the church capable of ministering to people. It’s probably not a conscious thought, but rather subconscious. The pastor should be focusing on equipping the saints, not on spreading themselves thin trying to do everything.

        • http://mike-collins.net/ Mike Collins

          What if there is a more appreciative way to say it though? Instead of pointing out what a pastor is doing wrong, why not encourage people to come alongside their pastor and shoulder some of the load. There are usually too many people on the sidelines pointing out what is wrong.

          Saying “pastors take on too much,” is a great example of this kind of thinking.

          • Dave Ekstrom

            Many churches place a pastor in an impossible double-bind. They love to use honorific titles, “pastor,” etc, but in reality the board often treats and pays him worse than a janitor. They saddle him with the responsibility to grow the church but then give him no authority to actually do so and criticize him when he does anything outside the box. They make promises at the time of the call of support and of following his leadership which they conveniently forget about once he’s called. The board often consists of people who are experts at keeping the church in its present state but are clueless as to how to grow a church. But they think they know it all because they’ve been at the church for x years. They don’t keep current on what’s going on because they can’t. They have their own careers. But that’s why they call a pastor. He’s supposed to be an expert. DUH! They want to micromanage. Do they do that when they call the plumber to fix their sink?

          • http://mike-collins.net/ Mike Collins

            Thank you for your comment, Dave. I resonated deeply with your “double-blind” thought.

    • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

      While I would agree that there may be some pastors who attempt to “do it all” by themselves, and have not learned the art of being a disciple maker as well as a leader who delegates, that does not change the facts noted in the article. I know for a fact that one of the reasons that some pastors appear to do everything is because there are people in their church who refuse to do certain things because “that’s what we pay the pastor for.” A church doesn’t grow because the pastor does all the work, but rather “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16)

      • Terry

        Amen!

    • tina frazier

      Amen!
      Remain blessed
      Tina F.

  • Bob Pena

    I shared some of this article in church today as I read thru our announcements, I’m not a pastor. It is my experience that most people do not have any type of contact with their pastors outside of church. I challenged our people to call our pastors and give them a word of encouragement. When was the last time you had lunch, dinner or coffee with your pastor…they don’t only read the bible, pray and golf. Don’t just say you love your pastor…really love them.

    • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

      Thank you! But, um… I don’t golf! :)

    • http://mike-collins.net/ Mike Collins

      Your pastor is fortunate to have your support.

    • Dave Ekstrom

      I once called on a disgruntled family. I had been serving in the church for three years. One of their criticisms was that I never called on them before. I looked them in the eye and I said, “Wait a minute. My complaint with you is that you have never invited me to your home in all this time. Is the guest supposed to invite himself? What kind of courtesy is that?” What do people think? Some people–the only time they want to talk to their pastor is to gripe about something on Sunday morning just before he goes into the pulpit to preach.

  • Frustrated Layperson

    Another article to help vilify the laity and perpetuate a clergy-lay caste system.

    • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

      The article does neither. And, if you see it that way, then chance are you are part of the reason the article was written.

    • http://mike-collins.net/ Mike Collins

      I don’t think we read the same article.

  • Ben

    we do not live in the dark ages any more, we do not need pastures to help us to think and how to dress and how to act we all have several bibles in our homes. we don’t have to look up to a man of God we are all men and women of a God. the Holy Spirit the comforter is here with us given us the revealed word of God, who is Jesus, If a pasture is in it for the money than that person should not be in the ministry. The dark age priest where the only ones who could read and write at that time. now we can all read. we can ask questions about the Bible, and the fear of not touching the anoint, is gone there is no special people in the body of Christ. I have observed some catholic priest and they walk around like we owe them something what i don’t know, that is what i see in pastures of to day you owe me because I am a pasture. living off the fat land. some pasture are trying to be Christ on earth. why do we have to assemble every Sunday, to be seen that you belong to a church if not you are something less. now i know the bible says do not for sake the assembling, ok but why every week? when are we gonging to start to think for our selves. Ben

    • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

      Well, I guess this post simply demonstrates that not everyone does indeed know how to read or write… smh…

      • Hobbes And Bella

        Wow! Why would you say that to Ben? I imagine a comment like that stings pretty bad. Sometimes it’s hard to remember these are real, living, breathing, feeling people on the other side of our computers. Just a thought.

        • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

          Ben’s comments are baseless accusations that “pastures” (sic) are trying to tell people how to think, dress, and act, and are “in it for the money” and “living off the fat of the land.” He further says that “some pastures (sic) are trying to be Christ.” He questions why believers should even gather together on Sundays, and implies that pastors of today are out of touch with the times – and trying to force people into the “dark ages.”

          I said what I said because his comments, in addition to being completely inaccurate, are filled with spelling, grammatical, and contextual errors.

          I do admit that my brief one sentence comment was less than congenial, and in fact sarcastic. I apologize for any offense caused. I was writing in reaction to Ben’s complete misunderstanding of the author’s article.

          • Hobbes And Bella

            These forums are great in the fact that we can share our differing views and opinions, and is perfectly acceptable to disagree and argue our points of view. However, in my opinion, we should make it a point to debate subject matter without belittling the people behind the post even when they themselves behave disrespectfully. I understand your frustration, I get that. However, I’ve come to realize that even while under the cover of my computer, what I type to someone else has the power to advance or to harm God’s kingdom purposes. God is for all the Bens out there whether I agree with them or not so I better think before I hit that enter key. I ask myself, would I say that to their face? How about in a crowded room where I’m respected? If the answer is no, then I don’t hit the send key. Just hang around and see how Christians treat each other and others from behind their computers. Though it is a Christian Leader’s forum, many who have been hurt by church leadership and non-Christians also frequent, comment and air their frustrations here. Too often, their hurts and frustrations and reasons for not accepting Christ are further confirmed. This breaks my heart too much to not say something. Oh, and yes, your apology is accepted though it isn’t me in need of an apology.

          • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

            Thank you. And, I wholeheartedly agree with all you have said. You may have entered this discussion a while after it began… there were a number of very caustic posts that have since been deleted. It was in reading those, and then Ben’s, that I posted as I did. My apology early was not just to you, but also to Ben. I reacted from my gut, as the things he was posting were demonstrating the very reasons why the article was written to begin with. I could not disagree more with Ben’s post. But, I regret speaking in a less-than-Christlike manner. Sarcasm has its place, but evidently not there.

  • Guy Brennan

    The problem is we have to many men out looking for a job not being called by God to be a minister.Then wonder why things don’t work.

  • LF

    having read the comments on this article for the last few days, I came away with this thought: perhaps the American church has it all wrong. Maybe there should be no full-time “paid” pastors, but rather shared responsibility among lay pastors that have other jobs to provide their income. This would : (1) eliminate the perceived need for some measuring stick for “success” of a church and focus rather on the quality of relational discipleship (2) spread the responsibility of caring for the “sheep”. (3) minimize the fear of failure (4) enable pastors to be real with their struggles rather than hide them (4) eliminate the feeling they are sacrificing things for their families by answering the call to be a pastor. (5) enable pastors to identify more with those they to whom they seek to minister (6) eliminate the temptation to water down theology in order not to offend a church member who may pay most of the pastors salary.

    Whoever said the NT church was not designed to operate like today’s church might be on to something.

  • JustAsMuchAMinister

    A very good article, genuinely. Yet keep in mind that lay employees working in ministry often experience the EXACT SAME PROBLEMS, despite not having a “Rev.” before their names… but I almost never see pastors writing about the burdens their dedicated staff members may bear. Very few churches offer the same sort of vacation and benefits packages, sabbatical opportunities or even recognition of the very same sort of problems that plague full-time children’s directors, diaconal ministers, youth leaders, secretaries, etc. I went to a meeting where I was the only lay employee and listened to pastors talk for 45 minutes about how they have worked at their churches for years and only make $50-60K a year. I agree — it’s not commensurate with the workload. No question. But I only make $25K and have worked in this field for 12 years. I am highly educated as well, still paying off loans, just in a more specific focus. And I experience daily the same rejection, overwork, and inability to confide in anyone (my pastor is my boss… I once told my pastor/boss something only to have it brought up publicly at a council meeting!). All-in-all, same problems, just no Rev.

    • Goodthoughts

      Over all I agree with you and personally understand. The general principles do apply broadly. There is something to be said for being the lead pastor though. I started serving in ministry in the late 90’s as a volunteer while finishing up my ministerial education. From there spent about a decade as a staff pastor. In the last few years I have become the lead pastor. I would have never thought it to be true, but it is VERY DIFFERENT. Now I am not just friends with my coworkers I am their boss. After years on the volunteer/staff side of ministry It’s lonely and a lot more difficult now to bear the weight of every department.

      • just a sheep

        @goodthoughts: your use of the word “boss” is interesting. I think it echoes concerns others here have expressed about the American church being run as a business or something centered around one person entirely –instead of co-members of the family of God working together to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • JustWondering

    This is a very good article sooooo true. It’s obvious that you write from personal experience or you couldn’t write what you write. I found it a bit humorous therefore the disclaimers here and there that stated this applies to everyone else because you couldn’t be happier. I wonder what kinds of stories would be out there were there an anonymous website where pastor’s could really share their horror stories without anyone coming back on them for it.

  • JustWondering

    I just reread my previous post and want to apologize to Pastor Wagner. I didn’t intend to come across caustically to another pastor as I of all people know what we go through. It’s probably obvious that I could write many horror stories myself. It’s just very hard to do and sign your name to it. Just like what has happened here, you open yourself up to be hurt in yet another way. So I want to congratulate you Pastor Wagner for being willing to write this article and sign your name to it. It was a brave thing to do.

  • hector

    Guy Brenan….. You obviously have ZERO clue… This calling isn’t always fun… Have u read the bible? Lol at all the me of god who didn’t want to so what god called them to do and were discouraged about it to the point of depression in the bible…. I guess “they were not called either” seriously? U are one of the haters… U probably have a poor relationship with your spiritual covering….

    • Just a sheep

      I read Brennan’s comment to mean that he thinks guys today are just looking for another “job” when accepting ministerial positions—and that the could just as easily accept a managerial position if one was offered first–instead of viewing the ministry as a call of God Almighty and accepting THAT with the ups and downs that come with obeying that call.

  • Deana Callins

    Believers are the Church. Jesus Christ Being A Better Covenant; Is Now calling the “Church” to Fellowship and Relationship with himself!. Jesus Christ spent most of his time speaking in peoples “Houses(the place they Dwell, Relaxed, and a place they Rest) building relationships. Jesus thought it better to Give to the poor. Rather than spend money on a “Building made with mens hands” that only decay’s, it can’t grow in Grace, nor does it have the possiblity to “Enter Heaven”. In Acts, the Followers of Jesus Christ sold their goods and travelled preaching Jesus Christ to the poor & Humble. With Joy in their Heart! God desires to Bless those who seek after Learning more of him with their whole Heart. And Also growing in his Grace and maturing in his ways. Mature Christians do not practice sinning. We practice Living Right and grow into Grace by “Daily” renewing our mind “By” fellowship of the Word and Holy Spirit.

  • Frank loy Brandon

    Love it, I needed it , thanks a lot pastor

  • Apam Chilhang

    Really a blessed article

  • Sam O’Donnell

    Hi All. I have a few thoughts I’d like to share. I’ve read through the comments below and find I agree with a great many of them. there are some that should never had been posted. Please consider that a forum such as this could be read by most anyone. What type of witness are we to a hurting world around us when all we can do is snipe at one another when the very people that are most committed to the gospel message are significantly hurting? SHAME ON US! I am not saying that any of us are perfect but Jesus said to love each other. That does not mean sentimentality but involves hard work on our part because, frankly, some folks are harder to love than others and they are typically the ones who need the most love. It is important to realize that there is a fine balance in serving God as one of His shepherds. A person must balance the spiritual needs of the people but manage well the corporation. Most churches are incorporated (501c3) and must have a CEO and board to fulfill the law’s requirements (render to Cesar). Read Peter’s writings or Paul’s pastoral letters and you get a clear idea of what is involved in church leadership. As to the contention that the early church had it all together, that is simply not true. There were great things the Spirit of God did but there was a great deal that required hard work, leadership and planning. My parting shot is this. Each of us has a place in the kingdom of God and He gives gifts to His children as He will. Ministry is a CALLING. It has to be. The days are long and the demands are immense. Pastors need to realize that they are not a one-person-show and members of the laity need to understand that God has placed pastors in the church to prepare people for the work of the ministry. Good leadership is required by those that god places in charge. As to the comment about the caste system, this should never be. Jesus, himself, put the kabash to that type of thinking when he gave the disciples an example by washing their dirty feet. The greatest among you will be the servant… Let’s all come along side of each other and work together to share the good new that God loves humanity and Jesus made a way for us. Sure, we have our difference of opinion or doctrine. That’s alright The main thing is to go make disciples. Let’s work together until Christ returns and love each other deeply while doing it. Jesus said that people will know that we are his disciple because we have love for one another. When we love God and love others there is no limit to the amazing things God can do in our midst. Let’s help each other carry our burdens and honor the Lord in so doing. I know some of you may disagree with my thinking, that’s OK. Please do respectfully and in Christ’s love. Pastor Sam

  • jmahan723

    One thing that helps me is to try to be a mentor to new/young pastors – those just starting out. Even in the churchy things like weddings, funerals, and the hundreds of little things that have to be done that fall to us. Letting them know by example that it all matters, even in those seasons where it doesn’t seem to. Thanks for the article.

  • Terry Rowe

    Being a Pastors daughter, I know that these are very true things that go on in the church. I have also been a worship leader and I know that that is not easy at times and it can cause bad feelings between people. I have also been on very wonderful worship teams and then we would move. That’s hard. I also know that there are times and seasons for doing what God has called you to do and where He has called you to do them.

  • Mason

    any chance we have the original source for Peter Drucker’s statement about pastors

  • Kevin B

    Thankfully I haven’t heard very many sermons proclaiming I’m required to be baptized to enter heaven because that is a lie from the pit of hell.

  • MTNimrod

    So your answer to “what must I do” includes what, exactly? Repentance isn’t controversial. Faith isn’t controversial. Confession isn’t (too) controversial. And until the early Reformation, baptism for the forgiveness of sins to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) wasn’t controversial.

    While I would never phrase it in the words you used (“required to be baptized to enter heaven”), why would anyone take exception to Peter’s command? Peter was so convinced of this that he spoke of it again in his letter, I Peter 3:21, using the words, “baptism now saves you”. No, it’s not the water, and no, it’s not the act by itself, which would amount to nothing more than getting wet. But to be immersed on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ and repentance from sin, confessing that faith to others – then the work of GOD, not man, in baptism is to unite us with Christ in the likeness of His death so that we will also be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection.

  • Kevin B

    What you must do is believe. Period.
    Baptism and other “good works” can only come after the salvation question has already been answered. Good works might be evidence of salvation but are not the cause of it. Baptism is a matter of obedience after salvation.

    You can’t say “I would never use the words ‘required to be baptized to enter heaven'” in one breath; then misquote Peter as if he said “baptism now saves you” in the next breath.

    That is not the gospel and it is patently FALSE and is a rejection of Christ and it will result in your eternal damnation if you don’t repent. Galatians 1:8, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!”

    Peter is not referring to your water baptism. He’s referring to Christ’s baptism into death at Calvary as that “baptism which saves you.” see Luke 12:50, Romans 6:4 & Gal. 6:20 for context. There are about 150-200 more passages that make this clear (too many to post here and too many to believe a false gospel such as “one must be baptized to enter heaven.”)

  • MTNimrod

    Sorry to have troubled you. Have a nice day. And don’t be so quick to condemn others to everlasting hell and damnation. You just might have to duck and run if you see me headed toward you on the streets of gold. :)

  • Dan

    Would you say Satan believes? If not, why not, and if Satan believes, would you assert that he meets the sole requirement for salvation?

  • http://www.wfa.org/ Timothy Satryan

    Yes, you would be most welcome at my church.

  • Jeff

    Jerry, why are you so angry about this article? I trust it encouraged some Pastors to know that some of the things they are feeling are normal.

    I agree this article is not something a Pastor should send to their congregation to make them feel guilty. Many so-called “lay people” are working tirelessly to serve Christ, the body and others.

    Most Pastors I know are simply trying to love God, love others and love those yet to know Christ. Most are not in it for the money, power or prestige. Of course, here are bad apples in every bushel.

    How do you suggest encouraging Pastors and others who are struggling to serve Christ in the context of a local church?

  • FreeThinker

    Ten bucks says you’re an elder at a church somewhere, Jerry Can. As a matter of fact, you might be an elder at a church that I served once . . .

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