The Remedy for Discontented Pastors

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Don't allow your discontent to cause you to miss the epic opportunities afforded to you as a pastor.

Have you heard of Pastor Scott Taylor?

No? Haven’t read any of his books, heard his amazing session at T4G, or followed him on Twitter? No, I suppose not. Because as far as I know, he hasn’t written a book, spoken at a major conference, and doesn’t even have a Twitter account. But he is a real pastor in a little state, in a little town, of a little church, for regular people.

Pastor, does that sound little? Does it sound boring? Does it sound like the pit you are living in? Does it make you feel tired? Discouraged?

After all, the seasons come and the seasons go. Children are born, teenagers text too much, young adults make foolish decisions, new parents enter the precipice of the normal life, couples face divorce, the middle class anxiously fights to make ends meet, the elderly age (and go to the hospital a lot), people talk way too much about the weather and politics, people give you way too many stupid books to read, the new convert wants to take over the town for Jesus, and occasionally people die.

My imagination makes me wonder if it goes something like this: there is a maddening eeriness to it all. The quietness and predictability of the rhythm causes a secret despair inside your chest. The despair causes a cycle of steps down in descending stages of crisis – you begin to fantasize about the way things could be. Then you start to worry that things will never change. This only makes you protective and fearful that everybody has it figured out but you.

The loneliness and perceived failure give birth to the last and most devastating step down: a quiet resignation that this obscurity and bleakness is to be your constant companion, pushing you toward the obscurity of a wasted life.

Your mind spins: “Should I quit or live in misery?” Then it finally happens: you grit your teeth at God. You have become Job in the madness of the little and the mundane.

What is God doing?

Consider this: the despair is a tool God is using to show you something that will change everything – that the Jesus you preach every Sunday really is all-sufficient. This is exactly the point God has been pasturing you for and tenderly leading you toward, not to hurt you, but because in this suffering, you will finally know the fellowship of knowing Christ in His sufferings and making Him your source of contentment.

If this is true, what is the answer?

Matt Wallace Matt is married to his best friend, Patsy, and father to two little girls, Emma and Maddie. He lives in Minot, ME. and is the proprietor of his own personal training business and a member of East Auburn Baptist Church. Matt enjoys great coffee, reading, and the humbling sport of golf.

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  • VS

    This word to pastors is a word to all believers and one that needs to be heeded. This quiet desperation hits everyone. Find the satisfaction of satisfactions in the deep, sweet fellowship with the Triune God.

  • Matt McDonald

    Great read, as a pastor of small church in Maine I can totally relate to this piece.

    • Josh Cousineau

      Matt, where in Maine are you? I am in Auburn Maine. Would love to connect.

      • Matt McDonald

        I am in Belfast

  • Steven Schenewerk

    as a long time pastor of a small church in a small town (21 yrs in Winston, a town of 5000), THANK YOU. Though I would love to speak at those conferences and see my picture on the front of a magazine I would rather sit with a family whose loved one just died; I would rather counsel a nearly married couple; I would rather spend time with children who are living in poverty (physical and emotional) learn about Jesus Christ and the freedom He brings; I would rather serve my mayor and her family; and a county commissioner and his family…there are no joys like the joys of seeing people grow and flourish in Christ!

    • Lenita

      . I’m a pastor in a small town in East Malaysia, half way across de world in a church of epic challenges. Thank you for reminding of my epic God n His message. Am sharing this with other discouraged pastors in my state.

  • Roy McCune

    When folks discuss what is missing from their faith life you have captured the essence of a most important perspective. You could substitute Child of God for Pastor and it would true for all who walk in faith and point the way to the savior. I’m speaking at our little church on Sunday and will base my message (with all due attribution :-) ) on these ideas. It is a perfect followup to last week’s message where someone else shared about the call to true unity in John 17.
    Many focus on the cross when they think of how Jesus suffered to learn obedience but I think this sort of sharing in the suffering common to life in this fallen world was at the center of Jesus’ ministry.

  • steve covin

    The message you preach can bore you if it’s not the true gospel of Grace. Mix Law with Grace and it’s boring to you and useless to all. Preach to real Gospel of Grace and it’s too exciting to contain.

  • jwk

    Unfortunately, it seems you have never Pastored! How easy it is to be a Monday morning quarterback…….How many times have I done the same things that you have mentioned about Scott, and then have those same families leave you, talk about you, stay away in a needed moment, or when you need them……I read a lot of things on this site from people who have NEVER done the job, but seem to know all about it…..

    • warren

      WOW! Take a deep breath.I can tell you have been hurt, rejection is never easy but then again we were never told life as a believer or pastoring would be easy. I try to remember that the sheep aren’t mine i just get to shepherd them for THE SHEPHERD. Some stray, some get sick, most need an extreme dose of humility and character training, but all need cared for. He is building HIS church not ours, so some sheep will stray but remember they aren’t yours. If in the end you can’t stand HIS sheep it’s time to try working at Wendy’s or Walmart or some other job where you again will not be treated with respect. Just make sure when you go you don’t hurt HIS sheep.

  • Anthony

    Matt, your sharing has been very timely for me because today I am wrestling with my own sense of failure, having been pastoring a community for two years and sensing that so many seem not to be understanding what church is. Too many regular church attenders seem to focus on non essentials, the frills of church life rather than what is at the core- to make disciples of King Jesus.
    But your word has helped me to recognize that spreading God’s word is not useless and unfruitful since results can be seen in places where we have not been looking for it- among the youth and others who seem to be disinterested but who are really paying close attention to our sharing what God places on our hearts to say to them.
    Thank you very much for your words of encouragement.
    In Christ,
    Anglican priest.

  • Matt Wallace

    Hi, thanks for all your comments. I have great respect for pastors and I struggle with discontentment in my own vocation- I know its venom, but there is hope. Thank you Pastors for all you do! Don’t give up- Gal. 6:9

    • Peter Mahoney

      Thank you Matt! Obscure towns in ME sound similar to obscure towns in TN. Grateful for the insight God has given you.

  • newcovenantnation

    sometimes, i am tired of americans pastors, with all the enjoyment and the affluence that you have… you are always bragging about your problems…how about pastors in the philippines… which resided in the rural places, where you ate same food in three meals..because the Italian and american imperialism use your religion to suck our gold treasures even until now….i’m a Christian, born again, top to bottom…but i’m a reformer…

  • Franc Goss

    I pray that those of us who at this place will in do season be restored in His mercy and grace!

  • Pastor Carter

    Let me just say it not bragging about problem, it’s the spiritual battle that we are engaged in, we who call according to his purpose will go through this intense fight, but we must know that our enemy wants us died

  • Barbara

    I belong to a small country church. We’ve never been real big but we where good. For the last 4 years we have really went down in atendence. Are preacher every Sunday morning and night tells short story’s he got of the internet half of them are not even suitable for church and I’m not the only one who fills this way he is really dragging us down and if you try to suggest any thing he gets very defensive and even brangs it up in buissness meeting’s what do I do I don’t want to watch my church die


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