These Are Your Pastor’s Secrets: Read Slowly

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Eleven hidden truths your pastor wishes you understood.

My dad was a minister in a church. My uncles were ministers. My cousin’s a minister. About 30 of my best friends are, or were, ministers.

I was a minister, until I quit seven years ago. Probably forever.

It’s difficult being a minister. In the hard times, I always felt like many of the people in the church didn’t really understand us. Where our hearts were, how we were feeling, what our intentions were, how best to help us help the church. Which often felt dysfunctional.

And I spent a lot of my down time thinking about a list of things I wish the church understood.

But while I was in the position, saying them would have sounded only like whining. Or it would have been uncomfortably vulnerable.

Now that I’m seven years removed from ministry, with no chance of returning, I want to offer some of these things to you who attend church regularly, hoping that they might be received in a different, more constructive spirit. I’ve really got nothing invested here any more, except love and respect for my brothers and sisters who do this for a living. And a hope that I can make someone’s life just a little better.

A disclaimer is in order. I ran these by a large handful of ministers this week, and most of them said something akin to ‘Yes, exactly!’ But there were one or two who responded saying that they’ve had a different, better experience with ministry, and that most of these don’t apply to them. But I think it’s fair to say that about nine out of 10 ministers relate strongly to most of what’s here.

It might also be weird that I’ve written them in the first person, as though I’m currently a minister. I’m not. But since I was born and bred and trained for it, and since I did it for so many years, I’m placing myself back into the fold for this post. Most of it comes from my own personal experience anyway.

So here’s what your minister wishes you understood. Give it a read, give it some thought and give him or her a bigger hug than usual tomorrow morning.

1. Our greatest fear is irrelevance.

It’s not losing our jobs, hurting your feelings or accidentally saying the F word during a sermon.

Those fears are there. But they are nothing compared to the nagging fear that what we say and do is making zero difference in your life.

That you are only showing up to church because of habit, or obligation or mental illness. That we are laying ourselves bare to write and deliver a sermon every week that nobody is hearing. 

If your pastor has made an actual difference in your life ever, by word or deed or example or friendship, take some time this week to let him or her know, in as much detail as you can. You cannot imagine how far that will go.

Mark Love is a furniture maker and former minister living in Wimberley, Texas. He grew up a preacher's kid, had several uncles and cousins who were ministers, and got two degrees in theology. After several years serving a church, however, Mark decided to quit and pursue a different career. Many of his close friends are still in the ministry, and Mark maintains a great deal of affection for those who do that difficult work.

More from Mark Love or visit Mark at http://marklovefurniture.com/blog

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  • Jane

    This is great and those of us going to church should love our leaders so much more than we do. It would be interesting to hear the same thing about the Ministers wife/husband….. They watch all this happening to their partner while trying to raise the kids… Oh yeah and so what would they say….

  • Cephas

    Wow we must have a different ministry here in the United Kingdom I am a senior pastor
    of a small Pentecostal of mixed nationalities for eight years
    I can only agree with points 9 and 11
    May God bless the work of His hands in Jesus name

    • Lee Presley

      Hi Cephas
      I am also a pastor in the uk. All I can say is thank God everyday that your experience (so far) is a positive one. I could personally relate to every one of the points our brother Mark has made and I know many British Pastors who would say the same thing too. You are in a minority I think. Please try to show a little bit more compassion if not empathy to your bros and sisters who sense God’s call every bit as strongly as yourself yet cannot share your whoops of triumphant abandon so freely…don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy for you if this really is your experience.
      God bless mate

  • Anayo

    I appreciate your very thoughtful
    and insightful post from an insider’s viewpoint.

    I’m not a pastor nor in any
    church leadership position, that said, it is unsurprising that pastors have a
    very difficult and tasking job. Humans are complex and who can know their mind
    except their creator.

    From the outset, I must state
    that being among the first to comment on the post, I do not want the
    atypicality of my comment to become the talking point and detract from the well
    articulated views encapsulated in your post.

    Pastors are humans and are
    subject to human frailties, failings and vulnerabilities. It is only when we
    anchor our understanding about serving based on antiquated belief in priestcraft
    and vanity that we end up giving prominence to self which ought to be crucified
    and be completely mortified. Everyone–including the saints—finds at least the
    vestigial nature of self interfering with their walk with him.

    All the issues you mentioned are
    inter-rated which is unsurprising, given that the battle against self and the
    opposition and resistance it presents comes in various guises. The toga of vanity remains the clear and
    present danger in our world where vanity has come to represent the best our
    socially re-engineered society has on offer as the ultimate prize for any human
    endeavour. Being aware and minded in the spirit as regards these social changes
    in our environment would provide the most needed spiritual insight when confronted
    with everyday realities we all have to grapple with.

    Most of us (Christians) have made
    a real faux pass by our erroneous dichotomy-the sacred and the secular. This
    has impinged on our very walk with Him. All–attitude, behaviour, the emotion,
    motivation, desire, satisfaction etc–must be derived from the sacred. Outside
    of this we all fall foul of a demarcation bias; and self becomes the
    predominate object of worship. Pastors ought to be acutely aware that it is not
    about them–which brings us back to self–but about Him. It is not about
    whether they are making a difference; it is about whether they are walking
    according to the courage of their conviction as directed by the Holy Spirit.
    Otherwise most people won’t bother with evangelism because people are not
    getting saved as they would wish while being obedient to the great Commission.
    As someone said, the main purpose of sharing the gospel is not to get people saved;
    it is to obey what the Master commissioned us to do. It is not our work to get
    people saved, that belongs to the Holy Spirit.
    A drink from cup of humility will do no harm on a walk with Him, but a definite damage to self,

  • http://www.RevChristian.com/ Rev. Terry Christian

    Peace be with you my brother in Christ-

    As your “first responder” so eloquently said …. he’s not a pastor nor in church leadership so we have to take his opinions lightly. He might be one of those christians you mentioned that quickly tell you the mistakes you made.

    As a Christian counselor, I am not surprised at all by your comments and I pray that many who attend church will be guided to read your article. The one who speaks with experience is the one who offers the best advice. I am happy for you that you left the physical church yet you continue to serve the Body of Christ by helping Christians understand their pastor as well as seeing themselves from the “pulpit” point of view. (The yawning, sleeping, whispering etc)

    I Thank you for your honest words describing your view from the pulpit and I would encourage all ministers / pastors to consider the stress that Jesus himself was under and He’s Gods Son. Maybe thats why HE went to the mountain so often to pray.

    I am a Believer, who believes the more we understand – WHAT JESUS SAID- the less we are affected (infected) by what others say.

  • http://c-mog.blogspot.com/ Drae

    A lot of this is so personally related to myself just as a minister it somewhat makes me fearful if the Lord decides to move me beyond where I am. This is why I try and pray for all who labor for the Gospel. It truly is a self sacrificing service that many just don’t get. I try to be as “human” as possible without going to far which is not easy. Making no excuses for my flesh but always trying to walk in the Spirit. This post is something I will pass on to other brothers and sisters in the faith. Thank you – Be blessed and a blessing

  • BillLion

    Such a great spot-on article, Mark. Thank you so much for voicing what many of us pastors wrestle through regularly and often privately. God bless you, man!

  • Peyton Jones

    Mark, I quit ministry once. Once for a spell, and the second time (I thought) for good. Somebody asked Spurgeon if he’d ever thought about quitting and he replied, “Twice a month”. Thanks for the honesty. You nailed a lot of it. Some of us aren’t close to our Mamas either. “I’m a loner Dottie; a rebel…” (PeeWee Herman). Incidentally, the guy I trained under was a furniture repair man. In my book Church Zero, I liken him to “John Ploughman” of Spurgeon’s imagination. A blue collar working man who was filled with wisdom. So grateful that I wasn’t trained by a seminary grad, but mentored by a real dude. Reading your bio reminded me of him. It’s cool you’ve got a seminary degree (shhhh…I’ve got one too. I won’t tell if you don’t.) Grace to you brother.

  • JW

    Thanks so much for this article! It is so true on so many levels. I could relate to nearly every point. The ‘job’ of a minister is one of the most taxing I’ve ever had, yet I can’t see myself doing anything else! Thank you for sharing your heart and your experiences, it’s so good just to know that others understand.

  • Steven Chapman

    Mark, thanks for so deftly writing about the struggles we battle in ministry. However, it occurred to me as I was reading that these are the same battles that my wife acutely faces as a Pastor’s wife. Perhaps the struggle with how our wives and family, who are just along for the ride but witnessing us taking the hits, are subjected to these same battles may be even greater source of pain.

  • Ron Smith

    The earth, if shrunken to the size of a billiard ball, would actually be smoother (though not perfectly round.) My point is that the man atop Everest is no more able to leap to the moon than is the man in Death Valley, than is the man in an ocean trench. We are all sinners. My pastor and I are on absolutely level ground and we both know it. That level is not based on how well we do or do not perform as Christ followers. It is based on the truth that we are both redeemed by the same blood, for the same reason. I am so grateful to God for this, and for my friend and pastor.

    • Craig

      You are not on level ground with him. If you go to his church, you are not. And you will say I’m wrong, but until you have Pastor as your first name you just won’t understand. BUT… Keep being his friend and never give him a shadow to doubt. You will move closer to level ground though you will not get there this side of heaven. God bless your friendship.

  • Kevin

    Although I have no desire to “cuss”, God took that in college, I can relate to much of this. Many churches are political institutions as well and if u fail to kiss the ring of those in control u will be ousted! Happened to me December 23, 2007 when I was dismissed because ” the lay leadership has lost confidence in you”. 5 old men determined my call there was over it has been devastating to me but more so to my wife and sons. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

  • PastorMickey

    I entered the ministry later in life (age 35 – attended church all my childhood, wasn’t saved until 32). I was saved in a church torn apart by the ones who wanted to be the bosses and trying to force the pastor out. I was forced out of my first church because I minister to everybody, not just middle and upper-class Caucasians. Pretty much the same at my 2nd ministry. 15 years later I left for a year – a miserable year because I had left what God called me to do. Please Mark, do not take this as a slam against you. I know the pastoral ministry is not easy but it is not a job it is a calling. Too many, I believe, look at it as a job. While I agree with a lot of what you say, if the Lord has called us He will see us through it all, the good and the bad. Currently I am serving a great group of people, for the most part, and I remember to tell them that. On the other hand I’ve also told them they are the worst (during a sermon). I know it sounds like an oxymoron and I told them that. Then I explained why I said those words. For most of us it would have gotten us fired, kicked out, etc., but I truly believe the Spirit led me to express that. My explanation was “there is no commitment on the part of the leadership.” Believe it or not things are actually beginning to turn around! Others are getting involved in leadership, people are becoming more interested in doing missions and not just giving money to missions. As Kevin said, Many churches are political institutions as well and if u fail to kiss the ring of those in control u will be ousted!” But I know from experience that if you approach them in love with the truth, minister to them in love, the Holy Spirit will be let loose to move in the people’sl lives.

    • Twinsfan1

      PastorMickey,

      I think all of us understand that it is a calling, not a job. However, there are times when we need to shake the dust off our feet and move on to another ministry, even if that ministry is being Christlike to your co-workers at your secular job.

      I also think that God, at times, calls us for specific tasks, locations, people, etc. I do not have the spiritual gift of “pastor,” but knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was calling me to pastor (lead) this church to a new level of effectiveness for the Kingdom. And I also know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God also said, “Your time as a pastor is coming to an end. I have another assignment for you.” This did not come during a time of conflict or stress (Thank the Lord!), so I wasn’t in a situation like some of my pastor friends who needed to leave simply to keep their sanity and their family from breaking down completely.

      Also, your approach (approach them in love with the truth, minister to them in love, the Holy Spirit will be let loose to move in the people’sl lives) seems to be working for you, for which I praise God. But what do you say to the minister who has been doing that FOR YEARS, and the people don’t respond to the Spirit? It’s not the Spirit’s fault, so is it the pastor’s? Is there no room to think that people actually resist the Spirit’s moving in their lives?

      Unfortunately, I’ve seen it many times.

      • PastorMickey

        Twinsfan 1,

        I do believe that there are times to leave a ministry and one of them is when you have been ministering for years, pouring your heart out and the people do not respond to the Holy Spirit. It is not the pastor’s fault nor the fault of the Holy Spirit.

        I remember in a breakout session at a Billy Graham School of Evangelism my wife and I attended in ’91. Dr. Graham happened to be in town that week and popped in on us. There were about a dozen pastors in that breakout session and he asked us “Where is your ripest field for harvest.?” Several answers were given and Billy told us that they all were good but that the ripest was in front of us every Sunday morning and that fully 50% of your church “members” really are not saved. Just because a person is a church member doesn’t make them a Christian anymore does one standing in a garage make them a car. I have truly seen that, even with my own grown daughter who did come to salvation in one of my ministries.

        Yes, people resist the Holy Spirit all the time, even “church” people. I have seen it too many times. Your question, But what do you say to the minister who has been doing that FOR YEARS, and the people don’t respond to the Spirit? You answered that yourself when you said, However, there are times when we need to shake the dust off our feet and move on to another ministry…” Did not Jesus not tell his disciples to do just the same if they were not received. Be assured though that when God closes a door He opens another one. He did it for me when I entered the ministry.

  • PT

    As a pastor for thirty-one years, I would respectfully add another layer to the frustration/difficulty of being a pastor. Like a football coach or the President of the United States, everyone thinks they know how to do your job….probably better….than you do.

  • Holyterror

    Thanks for an insightful article. It helps me to count the blessings I have, and the angels God has placed in my congregation who actually build me up!
    PT, an elderly Pastor once told me, “Pastoring a church was a lot easier before I learned how to do it!”

  • Craig Piefer

    I think I would add the frustration of what many ministers are paid. Most are paid just enough to live and give at a bare minimum. But we never say anything. It would seem like we are questioning Jesus himself, asking for “more grace please.” Often the men and women who are in leadership of the church are great leaders not only in the church but in their industry. Which makes them high wage earners. So, the men who determine my salary usually make at least twice or thrice what I do. If anyone of them had their pay cut to my salary they would walk off the job that day. So it leaves me thinking, “Is what you do that much more important than what I do? Are you more educated than me? Do your kids deserve their college paid for more than mine?” Then we hate ourselves for thinking it.

  • Pastor Jeff

    I would be interested in knowing what is the break down in the comments between Seminary types who have only worked in and around Church environments their whole life and those who have lived and worked outside of the Church and then become pastors. All those things are what everybody feels at times. It just seems that seminary types really don’t understand regular people. The church has done a great disservice to “pastor types” in general for teaching them not to be authentic and vulnerable. Maybe we should suggest to those who want to be pastors that go out into the world and get a regular 9-5 job, interact with non-churched people, get their hands dirty in the world. Maybe then they will be comfortable with who they really are instead of wearing some mask that is just not real. just a thought.

    • Craig

      Your post is borderline Judgmental, prejudice and completely without understanding. Maybe I’m reading it wrong? If you think Pastors are not getting their hands dirty you are crazy. When peoples lives fall completely apart (think Breaking Bad with a spiritual element) who do they come to? Pastors. And we carry their burdens. We take them everywhere. We weep. But your right maybe we should just get our hands dirty, then could wash up and go home at night. I prefer that over the pain and anguish that comes to the “Pastor Types”

      • Chuck

        Craig, I think PJ raises a fair question. I think it’s actually clinical more than judgmental.

        I’d be curious in knowing the mentality difference between those two groups, too.

    • Twinsfan1

      Pastor Jeff, I was a “second-career” guy, coming to vocational ministry in my mid-30’s (and didn’t grow up in a Christian, church-going, or ministry family). I don’t have a seminary degree, and never went to Bible college (had to get my classes through my denom’s distance ed program). I can relate to pretty much everything in the article. I was also bi-vocational the entire 12 years I was at the church I served. So from my perspective, everything is still spot-on. Whether or not seminary-types understand real people, I can’t say. But I do have to agree that requiring prospective pastors to work in a non-ministry setting for a year or two before pastoring a church is something to think about.

  • Merrilee Slaton

    NO, stop this is so right I have worked “in the world” all my life and now have the time to work in the church but I see my poor pastor being crucified by the people all the time. I want to go shake them and tell them to stop and realize what they have in him. I certainly tell him how much I appreciate his and his wife’s love and attention to the church every time I see them and plan on printing out this article and make enough copies to give one to everyone in the church Sunday and stand there until SOME of them have read it. At my age I can get away with it. Am much older than the picture on here LOL

    • msj

      Then you NEED to shake those idiots you refer to. Always right an injustice.

  • roger dags

    While I do believe that’s the delima of some pastors who has the same kind of fears. But I think the problem is the lack of these pastors to be some sort of being open to the congregation. Openness I mean not through insights during sermons but by personalized approach , face to face conversation with members would help so much for every member to realized that their pastors need their support more in terms of prayer so they could overcome these fears. A close and harmonious relationship between the pastor and member will be nurtured , thus , whatever concerns a pastor or a member have maybe easily addressed because they both readily spared time to talked and prayed about it.

    • Brian

      I agree here also. The idea that the Pastor needs to be “perfect” and above his congregation so they respect him is false. Not only doesn’t it work, but it’s completely unBiblical. We are ALL children of God, and we all fall from time to time…even Pastors. But if we pretend we’re better than we really are, our congregation won;t be able to relate to us, nor we with them.
      There’s nothing wrong with struggling with issues on our lives. Jesus did, and that’s what made Him like us! If it was OK for even Jesus to be tempted and share those temptations, how much MORESO for us!!

    • Twinsfan1

      Roger, unfortunately, it’s very RARE that a pastor can feel comfortable having that kind of relationship, because it’s very COMMON to have that relationship exploited and abused. Pastors are afraid to confess their fears, weaknesses, temptations, and sins, because more likely than not, they will be thrown in their face through gossip and accusations at meetings. If it weren’t for another pastor (NOT in my denomination) who could hear, empathize, and pronounce God’s grace and forgiveness over me, I would have collapsed from the pressure of trying to be perfect.

      In a perfect world, pastors could have deep relationships with members of their congregation. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and so only a select few can enjoy that kind of relationship. They are truly blessed!

  • Pastor Mike

    I see now why you quit. Being called into the ministry, not pursuing it as a profession is the difference. I love to pastor, yes its hard sometimes only in the sense that I do love the folk more than they realize sometimes. When I answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago I submitted my life as a living sacrifice to God which I considered my reasonable service. An old pastor told me one time, “There are a lot of volunteers in the ministry and they find out they should have stayed out of it.”
    I pray you prosper in all you do brother but I do not see the ministry as you did.
    Be blessed always!

    • Brian

      It was obvious from the first paragraph that he probably wasn’t called to the ministry. I look at being called to pastor, or really ANY ministry, like Jacob did in Genesis serving for his future wife. He worked like a SLAVE for 7, and then ANOTHER 7 years, and it seemed like nothing to him. Why? Because HE LOVED HER.
      Ministry isn’t a job. It is an outflow of a calling AND a heart in love with Jesus. If you have that, you can persevere under any idfficulties. if not….you’re serving for the wrong reasons…

      • pastor in training

        I agree ministry is a calling, too many people I think go into as a profeesion. When you do that you will quit.

      • lookin up

        His calling is not the issue for me. Every word he said is true. I now have to reaffirm my calling, which I have and will press on. But I do appreciate his openness because I think others should be aware of these realities.

      • Twinsfan1

        Wow, Brian. Are you the Holy Spirit? How can you say such a thing? Would you like me or anyone else to assume that you haven’t been in “real” ministry because you haven’t had the concerns he’s had and that many others on this page have agreed with? You can look at your calling any way you want. But you are not in a position to know all that God has done or how He has called another minister.

    • singuar

      I just finished 16 years at a Baptist Church. I too have entered a phase of life, mine being semi-retirement. I agree on the call of the writer. The list has some I agree with. But the “secrets” I would list are very different.

      First, YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW DESPERATELY I WANT YOU TO LOVE GOD AND ONE ANOTHER. That is what I live for, labor for, pray for. That I could see you radically changed and glorify God in a life of love. It means more to me than you seem to ever have figured out. I am not here to exploit, manipulate or use you. I measure my success in what I see happening in you and our Church members. If you fail, I cannot avoid feeling I failed. It is that important to me.
      Second, THAT DOING GOD’S WILL, GOD’S WAY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN MY LIFE. That is why I do things the way I do them. It is not about ego, my personal ambition or arrogance. I seek to hear God and do His will. I am not seeking to please you or myself. Please follow Jesus by following my lead. I am trying to do what I believe He is saying. That is why worship, discipleship and evangelism is so so important. It is not about what I like, but His will. When we clash, I can be wrong, but not insincere about what I am pursuing, God’s will.
      Third, WHAT HAPPENS HERE IS MY LIFE. When Sunday is done, you go home, plan for your week. Monday comes and you enter the “real world”, giving some thought about what you heard or felt on Sunday. Your week has begun and likely your week will be slowly consumed with work, family, maybe even some fun. For me, it is very different. Sunday was the biggest “work day” for me. Sunday night and Monday carry with it my constant thoughts of what I did, if it was all it should have been, could church have been better, who seemed to respond, who was there, who wasn’t, does their absence mean I am failing them, are we growing in number and maturity, and the list goes on and on, all in my head. By Tuesday morning, I am now thinking of Wednesday night and this coming Sunday, what will I preach,how shall I serve the Lord by serving you. My wife and family each day of that week will talk and move around me, but they learned long ago I am seldom fully there in mind. I am always preoccupied with what I see as the next thing I must do as your pastor. I love my wife, my kids, my grand kids, but they know they are really second. The church, you who are the Church, God’s will and work are always first, no matter how many times I deny it.
      These are the things my Church never realized. Even when I stepped down, most thought it was a personal choice. In fact, it was what I knew God was showing me. It was time for the good of the Church and God’s work. The “secrets” remained secret, even in my leaving.

  • Aqua

    i’m not a pastor so i don’t understand what they go thru in the ministry. i just hope what i have to say will inspire those as you might say are filled drained with their calling. you guys don’t realize the positve impact you have on our lives even though you may not see it first hand or even right away. i can still remember clearly some sermons i heard as a teen and as i grew older and was better able to understand what my pastor was talking bout it gave me strength to get thru whatever situation i was facing. i guess that’s one of the reasons the bible says that the just shall walk by faith because sometimes u can’t see the positive impact. And for all u Ministry’s who are feeling tired and questioning whether this is what God called you to do please keep these scriptures in mind (Isaiah 40:31, Philippians 1:6) and remember when Jesus walked on water and Peter asked him can he come and as Peter begin to walk he was so excited and his eyes was fixated on Jesus but the moment he started paying attention to the storms around him he begin to sink. i bring this up because when u start off it’s with so much excitement and Jesus is the main focus, then reality hits and people and storms take the attention away from Christ all i’m saying is keep your eyes on Christ and do what he has called you to do. you guys matter more than u know i’m just sorry that we don’t always appreciate it. God bless

    • RinaMaduro

      That’s so true. I am glad for everything I heard in my teens and that now I understand so much better.

    • Pastor

      This was the best response yet! Praise God He has touched you through the ministry of His shepherds.

  • Bryan

    As an associate pastor for over 40 years I don’t totally relate to every point made but to enough that I am thankful for your heart and comments

  • http://markrandallpixley.wordpress.com/ Mark Pixley

    Love the points Mark, but they point to a larger elephant in the room that no one is talking about…our current model of what life and church are supposed to be simply is not working…oh for some its a wonderful life, and others its a bore. My feeling is it does not add up because it is not supposed to, not the way we are imagining it…the lack of connection, the missing freedom and transparency, these should shout loudly to us that we are not being honest. Would any Pastor you know let his superiors (odd word/model) or former leaders/peers beat him 39 lashes 5 different times, or beat him with rods 3 times and still do this boring stuff? Probably not, which implies to me we are not presenting the same message and life that the early church did…its probably time for Pastors and flocks of sheeple everywhere to face the music…this is not what Jesus died to give us…lets stop cheapening what God has purchased with out outdated behavior modification clubs.

  • leejoka

    lee

  • leejoka

    my first thought…did you receive God’s calling?

    • Richard UK

      intriguing – how does one know if you’ve received a calling?

      how do you know you have engaged to marry the right girl or boy?

      do you get nudges?

      how do you test the spirits? if your friends and advisers say x, y z, why do we say this is calling/guidance any different from someone contemplating some secular decision?

    • Joe

      Because…if he didn’t receive an actual call ‘it’ there fore was hard…or, If he had been legitimately called ‘it’ would have been easier???? Or, maybe I don’t understand the question.

  • JRW

    While I am sure many can relate to your “secrets,” I agree with those who said they reflect a problem with how we think of church. Even the people who say pastoring is a calling, not a profession, miss the point. I think the issue is a wrong model of church — the assumption is that there are clergy tasked to carry the burden of “ministry” and that the congregation is to be the recipient of their ministry. In contrast, the Bible affirms the priesthood of every believer, that the leadership gifts are to empower every member to do the work of the ministry, that we are *all* called to be the Body of Christ. Until that is the way churches understand themselves, an unbearable burden will be placed on the “clergy,” leading to the frustrations the author lists.

  • sal

    Thanks for the insight. It’s always good to see things from every perspective. I’ll be thinking deeper.

  • Michael Reid

    I served in the USMC for 21 years. I have been a corrections officer. I have had a few secular jobs. And God called me to the ministry, of this I have no doubt.
    I will tell you that what Mark writes hit home for me personally. Every. Single. Point.
    Thanks for sharing Mark. God bless you.

  • alḗtheia

    Are you for real?

    When we turn ministry into a Job then of course we should expect these. Ministry is not a Job its a calling, it’s not work it’s a lifestyle, and being a leader in the body of Christ is a function that requires Gods calling and submission to and empowerment from the holy spirit not a position given by man to keep an organization running.

    1. Our greatest fear is irrelevance.

    Ministry is about serving God not man. If you feel you are irrelevant
    then you do not understand the calling God has placed in your life. If you are
    looking for relevance and metric your spiritual health and effectiveness based
    on people’s reactions then the organization you call a church has become an
    idle. Relevance and purpose is found in God and God alone anything else is temporally and fleeting and any opinion other than gods is irrelevant (including our own)

    2 We are mama’s boys.

    Not sure what they’re getting at but seeing how many men
    avoid emotions and conversation about spiritual things I suppose talking about
    these from a worldly point of view could seem unmanly but think that’s quite a
    generalization.

    3 . She or he sees you when you’re sleeping.

    As Christians we are here to proclaim the gospel both with words and deeds we are here to represent God. How others respond is not my problem that is between them and God , we are here to do Gods will if we are concerned about how men react then
    we have already lost sight of our purpose. Paul got stoned and beat up repeatedly for sharing the Gospel and we have the nerve to complain that someone doesn’t find us interesting on a given Sunday?

    4 We think about quitting a lot.
    We all do following Gods will is not easy for anyone and we all face trials and storms
    both internally and externally the fact of the matter is God’s grace is sufficient
    and his strength is made perfect in our weakness, we all need Gods empowerment and provision and we all at one point or another feel like given up.

    5 We envy people who can be themselves.
    Gods call for your life is not in conflict with who created you to be that absolutely
    absurd statement. The only opposition that comes from inside of us that is contrary to Gods will is our carnal nature and that is an ongoing process called sanctification. How dare anyone who is ministry claim that calling God but on their life is in conflict with who God created them to be what a foolish statement.

    “You want us to be human, but not too human.
    Believe me, we know. And it’s probably for the best that we are charged with
    setting a good example, it makes sense. But just know, we sometimes envy your
    freedom to just be yourself.”

    Again you’re here to serve God not man, you cant serve two
    master and if you try to you will displease both and be very very frustrated.

    Were all charged by God to set good examples why do you think
    this is a pastor thing??? You have some commandment
    beyond being Holy as he is Holy because that’s the standard God has set for me,
    but hey being a pastor and caring about what your congregation things of you im
    sure is way more taxing that standing before a Holy and perfect God who’s throne is built on Justice and Righteousness .

    If you fear man you have no fear for God

    6 We are often spiritually starving

    Probably the most closely guarded secret among pastors is how
    spiritually empty many of us are. Like a worker at the chocolate factory who no
    longer likes the taste of chocolate, or the prostitute who gets no pleasure
    from sex, we deal with spiritual matters so much that they often no longer have
    much meaning for us.

    -Wow following the God no longer has meaning I would wager you
    were not following God but –

    Worship, for us, is a program
    that must be organized and executed. It’s work. It’s notfor us. It’s for you.

    And then, when we’re not
    ‘on,’ often the last thing we want to do is something spiritual. Because it
    reminds us of work.

    We can’t read the Bible
    without thinking of sermon ideas. We can’t pray without thinking of leading
    prayers. We can’t meet with other church people without talking shop. So we’d
    rather play golf, or watch TV, or anything else.

    Which ultimately leaves us
    empty. Not everyone, not always. But often.

    I cant even say how much is wrong with this

    The only ministry you anyone one of us have comes from God, he fills us so we might fill others that is how vessel work. Any empty starving vessel can’t provide nourishment if it is empty a vessel has to be filled.

    If your get no Joy from serving God then you are not serving Him.

    IF you think worship is about executing a list of songs then that is a concern not
    worship. God does not want this idle praise that is absolute mockery and incurs
    his wrath.

    IF you read the bible for sermons rather than person edification then it will be a
    closed book for you and will be blinded to the truth. Sermons comes from personal edification and revelation it is the transference of truth mediated by the Holy Spirit it’s not an intellectual endeavor so we can from a lecture.

    7. We are sinful, no different than you.

    We don’t just think about
    sinning. We aren’t just tempted to sin. We commit sins.

    The same kind you do. Believe it.

    But also understand that this
    doesn’t make us less qualified to talk to you about sins, but more.

    If you’ve ever sat in the pew and heard a pastor rambling on about temptations and sin and thought, “Whatever, there’s no way she understands what I’m dealing
    with,” think again. It’s very likely that she does, first hand. And that what
    she’s saying comes from her own life, not just from a book.

    Of course

    On the other hand if you think you have more of a ministry than others because you
    have the title of pastor your wrong.

    We all have ministries. Believe it

    Understand that having the title pastor in an organization doesn’t make you qualified, equipped, called or more special than any other believer in the body of Christ.

    Pastors often have trust issues.

    As well they should. All
    pastors have heard stories about Reverend so-and-so who confided in someone in
    his church about his addiction to whatever, only to have that person tell the
    elders about it, which ultimately got him fired.

    It happens. We know it does.

    So every time we interact
    with you, even if it’s in a prayer group or some very intimate setting, we’re
    not 100 percent open. We can’t afford to be.

    It’s not your fault, it’s not
    our fault, it’s just a bad system that doesn’t allow pastors to be as human as
    it should. You can’t fix that, but you can have understanding and compassion
    for the man or woman who loves and serves you week after week, who counsels you
    and hears your confessions, and yet often has nowhere to go to get the same
    healing and relief.

    Again we all have trust issues you think this is a pastor thing?

    But if you cant trust your brothers and sister in Christ then
    you do not have a functioning body. Also do you really think that pastors are the only ones who love, serve, week after
    week, who counsels you and hears confessions? Wow that’s the role of the Body
    of Christ and if you think you are the head then you have tried to replace God
    and have severed yourself from that support.

    9. Ministry is a hard job.

    No it’s not!! Its a calling and an honor and we all have to give
    an account before God and this is not those who happen to have a title of
    pastor.

    11. We care about you more than you can imagine.

    We all do were all bothers and sisters in Christ again not just
    a pastor thing it’s a christian thing.

    • Michael Reid

      Curious if you are called to ministry full time, bi-vocationally, or as a volunteer…no point to make, simply wondering.

    • Daniel Indradjaja

      I have a felling you are not in the fulltime ministry so keep ur theory to urself and try to be more understanding.

    • Ryan

      While I understand your comments about job vs calling unfortunately there are too many in church and ministry that do not understand the difference. These comments are great in theory and idealistic on paper but when faced with the reality of it the lines become much more blurred. It’s easy to say its a ministry not a job but when your financial well being is in the balance you can view it differently. When your family life is on the line you think differently.

      Your comments are not those of one who has ever been challenged in ministry. They are very real thoughts but unfortunately a lot of these situations are ones that we have created from our own views of how church should be run. Anyone that says ministry is not hard has never truly been in ministry. I don’t know what experience you have that gives you ANY insight in this situation but you sound extremely naive

    • Guest

      Take a deep breath, get a cup of hot DECAFE tea and allow this brother the right to own his experiences and points of view without your scrutiny. Other Ministers are also relating to this man. I understand interjecting a thought to add to the discussion, disagreeing with a point or two made or even saying you disagree with his entire article would be expectable but correcting his entire article point by point is quite presumptuous and rude I might add.

  • Rev John Jackson

    I’m not sure where I fit in here. I am the son of a pastor, who decided that the one thing I would never do was to follow in his footsteps – I had seen first hand how difficult church people could be. I am a physicist by profession and still teach in high school but I am also now doing what I said I would never do which is pastoring a church. God called me into ministry in spite of who I was not because of who i was. I can’t complain about what I have found because I knew what I was getting into. My father pastored 4 different congregations over 43 years before retiring and always stated that it was about the call that allowed him to keep going.

    I was asked to go and pastor a church that was going through a split. It was hard work to reconcile the differences between the two factions while holding a full-time job and still trying to be a husband and a father to three children. The church could not support a full time pastor so I was never in a position to give up my secular job. But that was not an excuse to give anything less than my best to serve the people God has called me to shepherd. Was everyone appreciative of my being there? No. Did some people choose not to stay ? Yes. Did I let them define my calling or ministry there? No. Are some days really hard ?(losing my mother while ministering to a family who had just lost theirs) Yes. Do I feel guilty about not being able to minister to everyone who expects me to be their pastor? Yes. Am i perfect? far from it. Have I ever felt like giving up?No!No!No!

    Not because I am a superman or am super spiritual but because I didn’t call me!

    5 years on I am pastoring a church that has doubled in membership and more than tripled in attendance and is now negotiating with my school to arrange a 50:50 split in my time.

  • msj

    You’re 100% correct..but as a Pastor NOW, I feel & hear YOUR pain Mark. Especially about #6! I truly pray u get healed. You were chosen to minister. You can’t just say “never again.” Jesus went all the way to the cross. Be blessed my friend.

  • PKCK

    For everyone doubting this guy’s calling, let’s not assume that we have the low down on the mind of God. That is between him and God. He may be taking a break, or an early retirement, but he obviously has the passion and the love for the message and the people. That is good enough for me.

    I know without a doubt that I have been called by God–probably because it is about the LAST thing I would choose for myself, and yet I know that i could never stop–and almost every point hits home to some degree for me, and I would wager that on your difficult days/weeks/seasons, this would strike a chord with all of you too.

    Try on a little humility, it will make you a more compassionate pastor.

  • smsrt

    Wow! After 35 yeas in ministry, being a son of a career missionary, and being married to someone who has layers of ministry in her family… I would have to still say that while I recognize this profile, it does not make any sense to me. My answer to all of this lies in a simple answer.

    1. There is a difference between a burden and a calling. Think that through very carefully. I have a burden for the Japanese people. I grew up there. But I understand I don’t have a calling. I daresay some of the responders in this article fall in this area.
    2. One of my professors once said, “If you can go to sleep at night and not wrestle with being in the ministry… that is, if you can do ANYTHING else and sleep at night, then you weren’t called. I have found that to be true. Sometimes a pastor quits because he was deeply wounded, and that I understand. It’s happened to me. No one in ministry hasn’t been shot by that gun before. But knowing that “nothing surprises God” has allowed me to heal, wait for my time again, and go back at it. That I’ve done. I Corinthians 11:25 in a thumb nail scripture of Paul’s difficulties. So guess what? Toughen up, buck up to the table, and let’s go at it again. It’s our calling.

    3. This article exudes the profile of someone stuck in the wrong denomination, wrong church, wrong mentorship. If you can’t “be yourself”, then something is indeed wrong. Suggestion: find the neediest city, and the neediest area, and build yourself into the need. Slowly build your people around who God has called you to be. Don’t drop yourself into a place with other peoples callings and personalities. Oh, you’ll find your calling. Don’t worry about that.

    4. Jesus said some difficult things in John chapter 6. Many of his followers turned and left. He turned to the few left and said, “Are you going to leave too?” Peter said, “Where else would we go? You have the words of life.” I feel that way. What else could I do? What else would I want to do. I absolutely know I would do nothing else. I’ve known since I was in ninth grade. I love to preach, I love people. I love pastoring those people. Hey they’re sheep. Quit putting them on the same level as pastors. Sheep are so dumb they will sometime walk in a circle, and then the crazy thing is, other sheep follow their lead… walking in circles. But YOU are called to lead. No one ever said that is easy, because its not.

    5. But this brings me to mentorship. Why on a Sunday morning (when I should be going through my notes for two hours from now) am I taking the time to write this? Because the real issues is a lack of mentorship with our younger ministers. Where are the older guys taking someone like this along side of them and telling them that its going to be OK. Most of all… that God’s neither disappointed in them or angry at them. Where are these older ministers? The ecclesiastical landscape is scattered with the dead bodies of former pastors who left the most needed field in all of history. They’re telling me that Obamacare is going to show the greatest dirth of needed Doctors in history. Might be true, but when I look around I do not see a lack of need in ministry, I see a lack of preachers, qualified or not. If you have ever been called, you are still called. You may just have been swimming in the wrong cesspool. And I don’t mean one with the unsaved, for often the ones that shipwreck our ministers are the religious ones… the Pharisaical sect that gives you a life boat with a hole in it. They aren’t worthy of your care. Jesus so often pointed that out. But if you center your focus on them, you missed the real target: the lost. If the poor will always be with us, then the pharisees will always be needy, blood sucking minister killers. Again, where were the wise senior ministers that could shelter and nurture these called ones.
    6. Finally, never judge today off of what God will most assuredly do tomorrow. Period! God is bigger than both of our perspectives, and wider than our callings (or burdens). Lamentations 3 is the chapter of the pastor who has gone through this blog. But its also the chapter of God’s response. His mercies are new every day and GREAT is His faithfulness.

    Blessings to this “former preacher” and all the others that relate.

    • Richard UK

      Immensely useful

      1. “There is a difference between a burden and a calling…. I have a burden for the Japanese people… But I understand I don’t have a calling” I agree. Naming some employment (whether ministry of health care) a ‘calling’ can cut both ways. It gives you more impetus in the early difficult days, but it then binds you in later when maybe you should be getting out. ‘Calling’ is a dangerously over-used word, best used in the past not present or future tenses.

      2. ‘One of my professors once said, “If you can go to sleep at night and not wrestle with being in the ministry… that is, if you can do ANYTHING else and sleep at night, then you weren’t called” Insightful!

      3. ‘This article exudes the profile of someone stuck in the wrong denomination, wrong church, wrong mentorship’ – OR wrong line of employment altogether, though probably not in this case.

      4. ‘If you can’t “be yourself”, then something is indeed wrong’ I have to disagree on this one. Few of us are lucky enough to find or be qualifed for a job which did not require some measure of loss of personal freedom in exchange for the salary

  • Ryan

    I completely understand your thoughts in this article. My wife and I were both on staff at our church and were recently asked for our resignation after 17 years of ministry because the senior pastor did not feel that we had the capability of working in a church of 1500 (even though the church only had about 500 and he has never pastored a church of 1500.).

    In the time since then our view of church ministry has changed significantly. It is now that we understand that people are called to BE the church. While I believe there is a need for professional church ministry I don’t believe it should be elevated in the way that we have. We place unnecessary pressure on the pastor(s) and it perpetuates the idea of a consumer church where the goal of the pastor and staff is to make the church people happy so they don’t leave and take their money with them. That is a HUGE pressure on ministry “success”. We’ve created celebrity pastors who attract people because of their speaking ability but not their calling to ministry. Ministry that is not personal is not really ministry it’s a show. We need to seriously reconsider the biblical model of ministry compared to what we have now. Just my thoughts.

    • Richard UK

      I sympathise greatly with your plight. I hope your boss had first had the courtesy, not just of warning you in advance, but of trying to see how your many clear talents (just from your article) could be deployed. May God bless you – He surely will

    • Webby Oglesby

      “Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Tim. 4.2….read the rest of chapter 4….Paul’s words to a young preacher. I have been at it for over 40 years….it’s mostly a joy!! Are there bad seasons…of course. Interesting one of the greatest preachers ever was Paul…he said of himself, “I’m a wretched man…..” Paul in chapter 4 calls the Christian Life a “fight”! The article has some merit…but, I’ve been through several major storms in churches, what I have learned…God keeps His promises…I do not go on in my own strength, but His! Ministry, part time, full time, minister or lay person…gets really hard at times….so does all work in every walk of life! Preach…when you feel like it and when you don’t…it’s not about you. I’m thankful that Peter and the rest stuck it out….I’ve told many, “No one has ever dragged me outside of the city and stoned me!” I’m glad the brother has peace by leaving the ministry, I could do other things, but nothing satisfies my inner person like staying faithful to my calling…..I’m a sinner, saved by grace….I’ll be obedient to physical death.

      Webby

  • John

    I veto the calling comment. Ultimately it is the calling that will keep us in the ministry . I have been in full time for ten years (no where near so who have been in it for 30). but the greatest pain in my heart is how the church members would hurt my family, Yet, the Lord’s grace and mercies still prompts us to love our members . The members do care, I feel , in the church i am pastoring. It is the majority, but a few whisperers and a few who say and assume and accuse of things that we did not do, or did but had no intentions of hurting them. It is usually a casual comment about how they should trust the Lord but it is then used as we trying to defame them.
    Recently, i have asked for a 6 months leave from church to rethink the ministry, where I am and what the Lord would have me to do. I am asking the Lord for grace to know and hear Him clearly, covet your prayers. I read thru the eleven points – agree with some, disagree with some. But thank you for listing it down,

  • Vincent Aja

    This is one of the finest articles so far and it has the best respondents. It is good that the writer wrote this article and if by the grace of God he should be able to read every contributions; they will bring healings upon his spirit, soul and the body. He must have felt disappointed in the ministry and had walked away. But the answer to his problem is just what many people were able to address here. That one`s parents did well in the ministry does not mean that everybody will do well. Some people do think that they can inherit a ministry or that because their parents were called into the ministry, then they as well were called. Ministry is not a profession, it has do with calling, and when we are talking about calling, we are talking about serving the people. We mostly do have problem in the ministry because people looked at their educational qualifications and would be thinking that they are going to get the same maximum treatments which their counter parts in the secular jobs were receiving. This is not true in the ministry and when somebody is coming to do the works of God. The first thing that the person should bear in mind is that he or she is coming to deal with the broken people, people who have all kinds of emotional problems. So the person is going to deal with the most difficult people in the world. And this is one reason why when the Lord had made that public invitation in the Gospel of Mathew 11:28-30. He said learn of Me! This is where we normally fail the test, we have failed to learn how the Lord Jesus could select the kinds of people with the different backgrounds that cannot even agree with one another and He united them to be His Disciples. So, let me repeat again that this is a very interesting article to me because I believe that the contributions here are going to bring healings to the writer; and also those other people who were seeing ministry as a profession will change their understanding. They should now begin to understand that they are not in the ministry to receive preferential treatments just like the people in the secular jobs, rather they should know that they were called to serve the wounded people of God.
    24The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.25It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? (Mathew 10:24-25).

    • Richard UK

      Yes and no, if I may say so

      Ministry is not the only calling by your definition of serving people. There are millions in the health care (where by definition all not just some have problems) and in the educational system (where many of those they serve only turn up becasue the law requires them to do so)

      All these 3 professions require head and heart, whereas many jobs just require head, and many jobs only require hands. I understand your desire to encourage but to say “So the person is going to deal with the most difficult people in the world” demeans other jobs. And anyway, ministry has the best treatment, whereas health care might only be very distressing palliative hospice care.

  • Ozy

    Well written and said. Thank you.

  • Tod Thompson

    The whole article sounds a little like Elijah when he was discouraged. He was a great man of God and a great prophet, but during his crisis he needed God to speak a word into his life to help him put all of the hurt and hardship into perspective and to know that there were more folks on his side than he thought there were.

  • Grady Walton

    Several years ago I became friends with the senior pastor of our church. That relationship, as well as the attainment of a job (not as a pastor) in a large denomination, taught me the truth of many of the points in this article. Unfortunately, the friendship with the pastor soured (partly his fault and partly mine). That broken relationship, for many years, made me even more aware of the shortcomings of clergy. But God eventually brought my heart to the understanding that I (and most people sitting in the congregation) place way too much emphasis on the pastor in our Christian life. I am NOT saying that the pastor’s role is irrelevant. However, things like spiritual growth, closeness in community, friendship, connecting, service, learning, and simply caring for other people . . . well, those things are up to the people in the pews to do for themselves. I hope this comment takes some of the pressure off of pastors. I only regret that I do not have a greater voice to get this message out. We should push back against the human tendency of congregants to wrap too much of their spirit journey with the performance of the pastor.

  • T.J.Thomas

    Man of God,thank you for your transparency!Im sharing this with my staff,church this week.Be encouraged,do great things!

  • Twinsfan1

    I would add something else: when we drop the ball on something, we feel it keenly, especially if someone is hurt by it. It may not even be our fault that it got dropped, but we feel the guilt and shame nonetheless. We don’t enjoy causing hurt, and when we find out we have, we weep in shame and ask for forgiveness of those hurt by us. When that forgiveness is denied, we weep even more.

  • Roshan Ray

    Wonderful insight dear brother Mark ,for brothers who are planning or do have the calling for minstry shall learn from the experience. I myself has been aware that God has a plan for me but by grace of God has understood that I should step out only when the Spirit gives me the guidance to do so until then should wait quietly and get prepared for the battles ahead

    Some matters which I need a better picture why people fail in the ministry is it because we haven’t understood what discipleship means ?
    Are we really been lead by the spirit of God ,do we spend quality time with the Lord in personal prayer and meditations.
    We are called to wash the feet of our brothers have we really understood what that really means

    Not sure how much of the above mentioned are really a requirement for the ministry because I am not fully into it

  • Daniel W Miller Jr

    Thank you! From one ex minister to another, Thank you.

  • Hazelmay

    Ministry is a marathon. No doubt about it. I don’t think it’s harder than working in a factory or being a migrant worker, honestly, it’s just different. But there is much truth here. No one will make you attend to your own spirit and stay connected with God. I’ve found accountability helps, and slowly as I enter my 50s I am just myself, even if some people judge me for it. Thank you for taking the time and offering your light.

    • Richard UK

      Yours is one of the best posts I’ve seen on this topic – thank you

      Having been a high school teacher, I compare comments about a pastor’s job, and I often find pastors are asking for special treatment

      1. Not every one who is a pastor or teacher is temperamentally suited to that job (maybe they weren’t ‘called’). If you have an overly thin skin, sort that out – don’t take things so personally. Teaching is not about you (nor is pastoring). If necessary, with sadness, find another occupation before, in my case, illness takes you out
      .
      2. Neither pastors nor teachers have the added worries of those who are truly self-employed. Pastors and teachers have jobs but must be self-organising. Both jobs are prone to perfectionism (as indeed is any job not governed by 9-5). Teachers also feel they have not prepped enough, marked with enough care, written thoughtful enough reports etc. Both jobs are marathons, not sprints. But both have the duty to keep fresh which probably means outside interests. You are not the Messiah.

      3. Night shift workers have to work nights. Teachers and pastors don’t. Use the answerphone (voicemail), and teach people that your normal time for replying is 4-6pm, not within the hour.

      4. Turn the answerphone off at nights and leave a private number with the elders in case someone is really dying at midnight. People will be more reluctant to trouble an elder unnecessarily at midnight but can still do so in an emergency.

      5. Minster through the Word and train others to minister through cakes etc. (Let your elders keep you posted about individual congregational issues – don’t try to know everyone well). Reserve your best time for sermon prep, probably the mornings. Don’t be tempted instead to go online immediately to ‘keep abreast of things’.

      6. If you can’t find the gospel in power in your sermon prep, don’t pretend you have. Either read the scripture passage to them, and ask them the questions (which will teach them how to read scripture), or better still, preach a sermon you preached a while back which did have gospel power (by ‘power’ I mean not just gospel ‘jargon’)

      7. Being a pastor is really about passing on something about your best friend(s) who should be the triune loving Godhead. It should be easier to manage a job like that, than to be teaching Latin to students who don’t want to be there. When people tease their pastor ‘so, Sunday is your busy day’, it means (i) you only have to show up once – who provides the quality check on how you spend the rest of your time?, or (ii) the quality of that sermon probably only took you a few hours plagiarising various commentaries

  • Solomon

    It’s wonderful to share these thoughts. However, an impression that ministers commit sin is alien to scripture–1 John 38 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

    Ministers should either quit sin or quit the pulpit. The two are mutually exclusive!!
    Also, I’m a bit curious about your “not likely ever going to return.” Did God call you to the ministry? If he did, he will take you back– no matter what!
    God bless you dearly

    • amazed

      Wow, you must be amazing if you NEVER sin. I don’t know anyone, other than Jesus, who doesn’t sin at some time. Are you forgetting we’re human? Doesn’t matter how hard we try, everyone is bound to mess up at some point or another – whether it’s getting frustrated and losing our temper or thinking an unkind thought about someone who’s criticized you. It’s what we do when that happens that makes the difference.

      • Solomon

        By the grace of God, I NEVER sin as a minister. Do I have occasional times when I could have controlled my temper better? Definitely, yes, but I strive for perfection in Christ. It is amazing that we so defend the “sinning” minister.

        If ministers are still sinners themselves how then can they be examples as commanded by apostle people when counselling the younger pastor Timothy??
        1 Timothy 4:12 (KJV)
        12 Let no
        man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in
        conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

        How can a sinning minister be an example in purity and conversation (lifestyle) when he himself is guilty of the vices he is preaching about in the pulpit??

        Selah!!!

    • JasonM

      That verse was completely taken out of context and you totally missed the point of that verse. This has nothing to do with ministers but all people. And it also clearly states in context the willful continuance of sin not the occasional failures of anyone. My friend you must study this again. If you are a minister you need to “study to show yourself approved.” Be blessed.

      • Richard UK

        Can you explain scripturally how and why we should take this to mean ‘wilful’ sinning as opposed to occasional/accidental/ignorant/minor sinning? This ‘wilful’ is a modernish and rationalistic compromise for merging common sense (we do sin) with the command to be perfect. Fortunately the gospel is not common sense

        1 John 3 v8 is making the point that there is no half way house where mankind can seek refuge between the righteousness of God and the sinfulness of the enemy. We need to realise the picture is that bleak before we fully appreciate the gospel. Otherwise we think our job is to avoid wilful sinning and God covers the rest; it becomes just another one of the many different ‘cooperating with God’ approaches

      • Solomon

        And do you notice sir, that the apostles, teachers, prophets etc are given to the.church for the perfecting of the saints? If they themselves are therefore still committing sin as you depict here, how can they be effective in perfecting the saints? Ephesians 4:11-13 (KJV) 11 And
        he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some,
        pastors and teachers;
        12 For the
        perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the
        body of Christ:
        13 Till we all come
        in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a
        perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

        The reluctance to accept the verdict of scripture that it is possible to live above sin explains the failure of the church today.

        If ministers are still sinners themselves how then can they be examples as commanded by apostle people when counselling the younger pastor Timothy??
        1 Timothy 4:12 (KJV)
        12 Let no
        man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in
        conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

        How can a sinning minister be an example in purity and conversation (lifestyle) when he himself is guilty of the vices he is preaching about in the pulpit??

        Selah!!!

    • Mark

      I knew a man who taught bible and preached and he said he had not sinned in 20 years. We all began to think of him as a liar. There are sins committed which we don’t all know about. The BCP confession includes sins we did when we should have not as well as sins by not doing something we should have. Clergy say it too.

      • Solomon

        Then you would probably have problems with this verse…Genesis 5:22 (KJV) 22 And
        Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years—- believest thou the scriptures???

        • Mark

          I have no issue with the Torah, it just had to do with the fact we saw and heard him sin.

    • JasonM

      In response to your question, Romans 3:23 states that ALL have sinned. It gives zero classification other than ALL. Which I’m certain that means preachers too. Where do you read biblically that preachers don’t or won’t sin? Also the word states that the ministry is for the “perfecting of the saints”. My understanding is that preachers are apart of the saints as saints themselves. If we are being perfected by the ministry then that means we are imperfect. Show one preacher who has not sinned with proof and I will stop ministering myself. The only man ever to have not sinned is Jesus Christ. Should we sin, NO! Do we, YES! Our flesh my friend is imperfect and will not reach perfection until we meet our Lord face to face. If a man (flesh) can reach a place of not sinning then there is no need for the cross. We could have just remained with an animal sacrifice and that would be good enough. The entire bible is full of characters like, Moses, Jacob, Peter and countless others that sinned. Should they have not followed through with the callins that God out in them? I think not.

      • Solomon

        All (including preachers) have sinned. BUT that was before the cross. Before they accepted the free gift of salvation. Please note Rom 6:1– shall we continue in sin? The apostle replied–GOD forbid. So, we are free from sin when we become children of God. Please read this with the heart:

        1 John 3:4-9 (KJV)
        4 Whosoever
        committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the
        law.
        5 And ye know that he was
        manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
        6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever
        sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
        7
        Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth
        righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
        8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the
        devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was
        manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
        9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for
        his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

        For the perfecting of the saints–means “maturing of the saints”– And please notice that the imperfection we will never reach before death is perfection in knowledge–1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV) 12
        For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now
        I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

        However, we are made perfect in heart by the atonement of Jesus Christ. To reject such perfection and freedom from sin is to reject the command of Christ in Matt5:48: Matthew 5:48 (KJV) 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven
        is perfect.

        So, if you are still living in sin, then it’s time to quit!!

        Notice that Peter, James, John and the rest had their “imperfections” but jesus prayed for them in John 17. NONE of them was however living in open sin except the thief Judas. Ministers may suffer some areas of imperfections in temper for which they must pray for total freedom and victory, BUT NO MINISTER living in open sin should be on the pulpit. He has desecrated the holy altar!
        Therefore on the strength of the Holy Scriptures, I still maintain that Ministers should either quit sin or quit the pulpit. The two are mutually exclusive!!

        I hope this is clear.

        • JasonM

          I do believe there is a difference in “living in sin” and living for God and messing up at times. Everyone does. There are no exceptions. I guess we could go around with this forever and not agree. But are you without sin in life from time to time? Have you ever sinned after your conversion? I think we know the answer.

          My other question is are you a minister/pastor/preacher, etc? If you are then I am certain you have judged yourself with what you have written. If not a minister or other, then there is much more to your story than you are letting on.

          I want to thank you for sharing what you have and I will continue to study these things. I am going to share a verse of scripture with you one last time that not only disproves what you are saying but also adds to the fact that even the disciples new that people (regardless of positions) would sin from time to time.

          I will leave this conversation with the following 1 John 2:1

          1My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 2He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

          Be blessed!

          • Solomon

            My dear brother. My dear children— was addressed to children—- not ministers. Have I sinned since conversion? Yes. My brother, I am NOT here to condemn anyone. Rather, I am here to condemn sin in the pulpit. If you are still struggling with sin, you should not be in the pulpit.

            Let be be more practical. I became converted over 30 years ago. My earlier years were filled with struggles with sin– rising and falling. My sincere desire to serve God kept me trying until I found my feet. Would I have made heaven at the time? Yes, once I repented and got cleansed. Was that God’s perfect will? No. Was I qualified to minister at the time? NO– this is where we differ.

            ANYONE still struggling with sin and still “messing up occasionally” is not qualified to be in the pulpit. There is NO single example in scripture of such ministers messing up occasionally being condoned by God. Abraham did that in the old testament, BUT God had to call him to order in Gen 17–
            “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”

            Peter messed up in the new testament but he needed to be converted again–But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. Luke 22:32. Peter resorted to eye-service in the new testament but;

            But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.Gal. 2:11.
            Paul withstood him. He did not permit it by saying that everybody messes up at times.
            So, please study these passages as promised. Pray for perfection of heart and stability that comes with circumcision of heart.
            Finally, am I a minister? Yes– by the grace of God. Your comment ” If you are then I am certain you have judged yourself with what you have written” is an assumption– sounds like you are falling into the trap of anger and judgement– I forgive you my brother.

            “A bishop then must be blameless” 1 timothy 3:2.
            That is the standard of scriptures……and this is where I stand.

            God bless you my brother.

  • Mark

    If a minister can’t talk to anyone, go visit a catholic priest. They are sworn to secrecy. Then move that your denominational hierarchy adopt the confidentiality rules and force the issue.

    Next, why does everything the pastor has have to go into the sermon? Why is the sermon the pinnacle of the week? Read the bible to the people, let it speak for itself, and comment on it. Use the 11-minute homily. Too many sermons could be split into two or three really good ones but longer sermons do not equal better sermons.

  • George Bates

    One major thing is missing in this article, and that is God. I am so glad I was called by God to be a servant leader and not consider the ministry as a job, but as a service, always practicing servant leadership and humility. As I read this article I cringed and was so thankful that God called me to the ministry and I wasn’t born and raised into it. I never look at ministry as an occupation, but a privilege to serve our majestic Lord.

    When we talk of being led into the ministry because that is what our forefathers did, that throws up a red flag. We need to be called by the Lord, he is my boss, not the church leaders. If I am doing as God leads and following Jesus and His teachings and the word of God is my instruction manual, I have no worry what the congregation thinks. I am here to serve the Lord first and then my flock. If we are truly filled with the Holy Spirit and are preaching His messages and doing His work, most of these “complaints” are not justified. God opens and closes doors when you are totally in tune with Him and converse with him regularly, we need to communicate with our boss often, and that is God. Have faith and trust in the Lord. If we are totally in tune with Him, we can never say we are never going to pastor again, that is His call. I don’t mean to sound sarcastic, but if we trust in the Lord these issues are much like the Israelite’s grumbling in the wilderness, they had no faith.

  • Denn Guptill

    Thank you Mark, I’ve been a Pastor for over thirty years and love it, most of the time. But you certainly hit the nail on the head. Blessings

  • Leah Tibert

    It seems to me you must be the pastor that I knew ……. We called him to be the pastor of our church and he accepted the call……. We truly believed in talking with him and his wife that “he was called” to the ministry and that he was exactly who he portrayed himself to be. Humble, loving, compassionate, etc.
    He was in the field a matter of months, when a woman came seeking the Lord and he spoke with her often, in fact, many times, some of the time the deacons were present, some not. Then, because his wife had “discerned” that this woman had “evil intent” on her mind, the deacons were called to mentor this lady. The pastor no longer took calls from her, nor returned calls. Then, as time went on there were accusations made and lies told to make it seem that this woman had mental issues…. that she was “praying against the pastor’s wife”
    The wife also, who was attempting to go before the “council” herself was telling the pastor if and when there would be study time, and I assume when he was available for anything. The deacons met with the pastor and explained to him that he “needed to take charge of his ministry”. He said that yes, he had let it go too far……and that he would. Within, a few minutes he had a call from her to say that “he was tired and he needed to go home for a nap’..
    Many times the deacons met with him, and then the lies started. Saying things that the deacons had said……… and had done.
    Accusing the deacons of not supporting him…… and telling him that the issues that had come up had come from them……. That they had been the ones who had told him this woman “loved” him and that “she was praying against his wife”
    I could go on ………. we had a year of this…….. the deacons were now distrusted by the congregation…….. and the lies that were told did extreme damage both to the church and community. Finally, after they could bear no more…… the deacons resigned……….. Now, the wife is going to go ahead with her “goal” which they claim is a “calling”……..
    Words are words……. a call a call, and a goal a goal. There is no way, that you can ever convince me that this man was called……… nor was his wife…….
    They present sunshine smiles in front of the congregation and sit and sweet talk the older ladies of the church…….but inside the office door is nothing but evil thoughts and plans………… I shutter to think what God is thinking……..
    The reason I compare is in your own writing first it is about male pastors, then the he/she comes in……… then we suddenly hear from your writing about how compassionate “she ” is …………
    It may be a typo………. but from the words written ……… I’m sorry ………. I’m not putting the wool over my eyes again……. there most certainly are more than a few males and females behind the pulpit today that are not called of God…… IF we read the scriptures we know that this is right……. it tells us this….. they are called…. but not from God…….. Beware, and keep serving our Father!!

    • Bill Lawson

      Wow, what an awful story. I’m not sure how this relates to the article. I’m so sorry you were so horribly hurt. I pray that will find peace. I hope you don’t judge too harshly the new pastor God will bring to you.

      • Leah Tibert

        That pastor is still at the church ……… no, I am not judging, nor do I carry a grudge….. I am still following my Saviour … I left the church because I could not carry on, knowing what is still going on…however, I am fellowshipping with others at another church and Bible study… I still pray for that church, and I pray that God’s Will will be done there. That is not to say I’m judging …….. but discerning that I am unable to attend knowing what I know….
        I was just trying to say (re the article) that “not all are called” . There is a belief that if they stand behind the pulpit they are “from God”…… I just wanted to relay that in the Scriptures it tells us there will be “false teachers” and we have to be very careful that what we see and hear is the “truth”……… the best way to do that is “read your Bible” and “be discerning……….. I may have given up on people who do not follow God’s word………but I have not given up on God.

  • Paul W Newell

    Great article. Just not sure Monday was the day to post / read it. [Insert smiley face here.]

  • Peggy Ajax

    Amen, without Jesus Christ, God the son in the lives of those in the fellowship, it does become a job, and a very difficult one at times. We are a part of the congregation and the points the writer made are well taken, and truly important in that we cherish those who accept the call to Shepard us. But, even in the face of the storm, i.e. when Jesus sent the disciples to the other side of the lake while he went to the mountain to pray, they were in the center of His will when the storm caught them in the middle of the lake. Even in the center of His will we definitely run into tuff stuff, but the beautiful thing is that Jesus is there to always take our hand and He will never let us sink, if we cling to Him

  • MarciH

    Church leaders, if you’re going to post an article about how pastors feel, don’t post one by someone who a) quit, and b) was never called to begin with.

    Posting an article about someone who quit the ministry is really dumb. A you’re going to get is the negative. This person QUIT! Why should I believe anything he says. People who quit something don’t have fond memories of their time.

    I know some people are going to argue, but those who have been truly called by God will agree. If you can quit being a pastor, and be totally fine with that, then you were NEVER called. When God calls you to be a pastor, you will NEVER be happy doing anything else. God will always draw you back, no matter how hard you run. My parents were told before my brother was even born that he would be in ministry, that my father was the Moses , and he would be the Joshua. My brother ran for YEARS from this calling, even joining the a army. But guess where he is now, in Bible college planning in being a missionary. You cannot escape God’s call on your life.

    One more thing, the section on spiritually starving has got to be the biggest load of CRAP I’ve ever read. Please show me one person in the bible who dealt more and more with spiritual matters who was spiritually starving. If you’re spiritually starving, it’s your fault , not being a pastor. And a pastor may read the Bible and think if a sermon, but that’s because that’s what the Spirit is speaking to him about. And if you can’t worship , that’s a heart problem, not a job problem. I lead the worship at my church. It’s my JOB to pick out the songs, make sure everything runs smoothly, etc. but that doesn’t mean I can’t worship. You can get bogged down in the details, if you take your mind off Who you’re worshipping. Keeping God at the center of your worship will allow you to worship, even when the power cuts out in the middle of your singing.

    • http://c-mog.blogspot.com/ Drae

      Amen. I have to agree completely. The only thing I may bring into question is quitting your calling; in response to apparently you’ve never been called to begin with. Let us remember that no matter what God is ultimately the one who appoints. The devil has no authority without God giving the ok and guidelines to Satan. Also God has made it clear that he can and will turn those who know the truth but refuse it, over to a reprobate mind. He will turn you over into your own lust and desires. If your heart isn’t on what does God want from you but instead on what you can give God then the order and as well as the heart condition is out of alignment. People can turn from the call. If you can run from it you can turn from it. You well find no fulfillment outside of it but you can make a choice. We aren’t robots who once called are under the chain of the call. We choose to stay bound to the calling on our life OR run from it. No different than the parable of the talents. Just my observation. Otherwise very good reply on some hard truths. -be blessed and a blessing

      • MarciH

        Yes, you can run from a calling. The point was that if you quit your “calling,” and are perfectly fine and not miserable, then you weren’t called in the first place. If you are truly called, you may run from it, but you will never have peace, and any repentence and coming back to God will include a return to your call.

        • http://c-mog.blogspot.com/ Drae

          Again I hear you. But to say that your mood off uneasiness or not is an indicator of whether your really called or not is questionable. Yes Paul made it clear “woe unto me if I don’t preach the gospel” but some who are called to serve can also have a hardened heart. Which can come from pain, sorrow or anything that took the rightful place of the one true God. That’s all I was saying in relation to someone’s actions. Even being called is for a season. Regardless of the situation. I think heart direction and motive need be placed in front of the alter for Christ to decide instead of our emotions.

        • Micki

          You can’t imagine some horrible things that can happen in a pastor’s life and that of his/her family. To question a calling or criticize how someone handled a possibly horrific situation which, let’s be honest, most people will never know the whole story- is being judgmental, and not responding in love. Why not pray, “wow, bless that poor man and family”

    • Duane Keith

      I don’t think we have to agree with all them. Relax brother.

      With all due respect…

      Mama’s Boy Preacher

    • Achiever

      You don’t know the struggles of a minister unless you have been one. I think your words are full of CRAP.

    • Micki

      Wow. A little less mordant criticism brother Christian. A check on your speck is needed in the mirror. That type of reaction is exactly what the author was referring to.

      • Micki

        Sorry MarciH, I meant sister Christian

  • Mike V.

    Mark,
    Thank you for sharing! Though some may not think your points are valid, they too are not being truthful with themselves. I was asked to resign and I’m finished as well. I serve as a Prison Chaplain and find it very rewarding, without most of the heartbreak that comes with church ministry. I will be sure to share with as many of my friends as I can. Bless you brother.

  • Mandah

    Thanks mark. Great article. I’m sorry for all the negative comments. I spent 10 years in one profession before giving into the call for ministry. I really wrestled trying to know clearly from God if He was calling me or I was looking for a new “easy” job (“you only work one day week”). After struggling I went to seminary (though it wasn’t absolutely required) and continued to wrestle with the idea of call. Having spent at least 4 years wrestling I have come to the conclusion I have been called. When I reflect on the path my life has taken it is clear my God has called me to ministry.
    I’ve been in my first church for 8 months. I have been told directly or indirectly that I have not been called. I do not listen to the Holy Spirit and have not had an encounter with Jesus all less then 6 months in.
    Anyone who says you (or I or any pastor) has not been called because we want to quit or do quit are amazing mind readers. I would ask that they leave the matters if our minds and hearts to God.
    I think of quitting at least once a week. If I did not believe I was called I would not have stayed. But someday I may quit and I hope people will not judge me as many of these comments have judged you.
    Blessings in wherever God leads you.
    PS never say never. I said I’d never and now I am. My wife said never and now she is. God is funny that way.

  • Pandy

    Great article, very thoughtful and heart felt. Very sad that so many people feel the need to be negative, and further prove the point that, as a society, we hold our shepherds of faith to an impossible standard. Expecting them to be infallible and perfect; ostracizing and punishing them when they fail to live up to our ideals and beliefs of how they should be. This man walking away from ministry says absolutely nothing about his character, or his faith, or even his true calling and purpose in life. It does however, say everything about our society as a whole, and how much we, as a culture, beat even the best of people down, making them feel worthless and helpless against such a tidal wave of negativity, intolerance, and ignorance.

  • Scott Onque

    Great read.. I am a pastor and I can concur with several of his points. This is why I remind my church to pray for your pastor.

    • King Jesus

      So what happens when the pastor falls?
      Does he confess to God and repent and keep in doing what He must fir the sake of the elect or does he confess to a deacon or something?

  • Achiever

    Being a minister at a Church is challenging because you are dealing with people that can say whatever they want but won’t suffer any serious consequences. They can spread rumors, gossip and lies and no one can do anything to them because the Church is open for everyone. When you have a community like this, things can get out of control. In addition, many Christians don’t know the Word of God well and some of the things they do, they think they are doing it in the name of God.

  • RT15

    One thing that I can relate here is about the encouragement that pastors or preachers need. The sad thing I see and hear is when there is a new preacher they hear and they seem to like him they give encouraging words or clap their hands while he is preaching, the sad thing is the “old” timers preachers are not given the same treatment, are overlooked, taken for granted, sometimes derided and not much less a handshake. The point here is that congregants have a favoritism attitude whereby in the book of James it discourage favoritism. These very same people are “church workers” who are supposed to function and do specific tasks before the service begins arrive fashionably LATE and won’t even offer as much as an explanation why. Maybe because someone knows how to set up everything and so they just arrive any time they want. I’m not perfect I hasten to add but when you say you serve the Lord shouldn’t everyone be on the same page?

  • Edward

    Dear Mark

    Having been in ministry since ’83, I have to agree with your article. Thank you for writing it. I hope a lot of lay folk read it and treat their minister/pastor/priest better as a result.

    May God Bless all who seek to serve Him

    Edward Brown (South Africa)

  • Philip Ankamafio Mensah

    Mark. This is fantastic piece. I can relate to a number of the points raised. In relation to these let me offer some suggestion that i have personally adopter in our church in Ghana.
    1. Set a pastor’s appreciation month. Use that month to preach and teach church members about pastoral work , issues about ministry, challenges about ministry with specifics from your local church etc. DON’T BE SCARED TO SHARE WITH THEN PERSONAL ISSUES YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED AND HOW YOU DEALT WITH IT. Openly ask them for support in specific area and how they can corporate. Let’s not assume they know. MOST PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW A DIME ABOUT MINISTRY. They will only know when they are taught.

    2. Please be free to live your life like every normal person. Play golf , make business associates and attend non church related meetings. Life is not all about church though for you and me it takes a major junk of our attention and time. Spend time with your kids in picnic, holiday and not feel guilty about it.

    3. Take your time off if need be. I nearly lost my life to stress and blood pressure when I was only 35. Thanks for the timely intervention of my doctor. Praise God!. If I had died the chuch will continue to exist 7 years down the line. I would have been forgotten by now. Where would my wife and kids be. ( ask the widows and widowers). Even when they are founders of churches their spouses are neglected. No love , attention or celebration in their honour. Thought Jesus would celebrate them in heaven.

    4. Be your self. No matter what you do people would have opinions. Some would leave, others would whine and some would encourage. Please people’s praise should not be the source of our motivation but the joy of having fulfilled the masters wish. Moreso make close friends and accountability partners who would honestly help you improve.

    BE HAPPY CONTENT AND PLEEEESE LIVE LIFE FULLY IN HONOUR OF JEHOVAH.!

    Hope this helps

    • Joyce

      Good advice. God bless you.

      • Philip Ankamafio Mensah

        Thank you Joyce.

        Stay blessed

  • kbox

    Pretty good, on most points.
    I think you need to get back to ministry it sounds like you miss it.
    I agree with most of your point, but mamas boys, really , I’ve been in the ministry over 22 years and all the minister friends I run with love to hunt, motorcycles, guns, sports, etc. I pesonally have a CHL. And have no problem with giving my opinions about politics on FB, or the pulpit for that matter.

    Ive also learned you can’t free people if your not free OF people.

    One of the things that I have discovered its up to me to keep the fire burning. Its not the peoples responsibility to feed the flame.

    Ive been doing this 22 years, still love it even with all the stuff you have to put up with.
    Lets not be bitter we serve the best boss, the best company and our work has eternal impact how many can say that.
    Blessings

  • Ragboy

    Sounds to me that with respect to your feelings. I don’t know who disciple you but you sound like one that as a minister you might of never learned that your security is in Christ Jesus. As a minister I have been pastoring over 35 years and I still feel the Joy of serving people regardless of how people behave. People are people and the work of a minister is love them and help them grow. Once again I respect how you feel but abandon tour God given calling and surrender to tour surroundings I wouldn’t encourage you to go back into the ministry because you be a disappointment to people. As to the disciplines correction, and discipline have there rightful place and a minister should be able to feel the confidence of exercising his God given authority. This comment might seem a little hard but where is your reverence to who God is and the privilege to serve.

  • Rob Pochek

    Thanks for sharing Mark. It’s risky…as some of the comments here demonstrate. But, I appreciate your willingness to say what often remains unsaid.

    Posts like this are not intended to be 100% accurate – that is, every point applying to every pastor equally. I found most of them to be true (at one time or another) in my life.
    Again…thank you Mark!

  • Ken Cooper

    I have been in ministry for over 41 years. i have experienced most of what Mark talks about at one time or another and expect to continue to do so. However, I have a strong sense of the Lord’s calling that I am exactly were he wants to be and that I am to work to please Him, not man. So I have learned to deal with these issues and do not let them deter me from my calling. Besides, I can’t imagine any other vocation where I would be content.

  • Dortmund

    Weigh the costs, discern the Call and gifting. Some were sent, some just went. Training must include Jer. 23:3-4. Did you often review your last 500 years’ church fathers, daily review hospital and crime and court blotters? Have you _ever_ seen the sheep herder’s movie ‘Sweetgrass’? Once-Pastor Confesses It Is God’s Pulpit Not His. Hope you at least made sure your replacement owned the requisite-issue knee boots. Your article is incendiary to those truly called.

    • Terry

      Your comment is incendiary. WoW !!! It is attitudes like that that have the pews emptying at phenomenal rates. It is also why more and more the pulpits are becoming filled with those who do the job mostly for the money and many don;t even believe in God. Oh by the way contrary to the iconic nonsensical platitude that “it is all about God and not about us” …… GOD doesn’t feel that way… if he did he’d have wiped us out and started over with little robot drones. That’s not what he did … He donned a human body lived a human life perfectly and then laid it down in our stead … why ? Because to GOD it is all about us.

      Jesus didn’t die to save God he died to save us….. It is high time we laid down our Pharisaic idioms that Jesus railed against crawled out of our clean white sepulchers and stop being full of dead mens bones. We need to pick up the mantle of love and compassion that led to our salvation. Your statement is a perfect example of what the Pharisees and keepers of the law did that perverted the law and forgot the heart of it.

      The law was intended to enable the us to live righteous
      lives. But the Pharisees had corrupted the law. Disregarding any ethical
      considerations and being devoid of mercy, they imposed an intolerable
      burden of legal observance upon the common people. Life for the Jews
      became slavery to the legal precepts invented by the experts of the law.

      Jesus condemned the Pharisees for being careful to appear righteous
      on the outside, while inside they were full of greed and wickedness. In
      the “Dictionary of the Bible”, D. Eaton says,

      “That which defiles a man is the evil condition of his
      own heart (Matthew 15:11ff, Mark 7:14ff). No action is of any moral
      worth unless it is the expression of the inward disposition.”

      Jesus called them blind guides who had shut the gates of heaven so
      that neither they nor the people could enter. He constantly attacked
      them for hypocrisy, calling them fools.

      “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for
      ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in
      yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

      Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe
      of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of
      the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these things ought ye to have
      done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain
      at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

      Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make
      clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are
      full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee.” (Matthew 23:13,
      23:23-26)

      This man wrote from his heart and shared with us not just his feelings but the feeling of many in ministry. God Bless him and all those who have been abused in the church system that often looks nothing like what Jesus started.

    • thunder250

      Talk about shooting the wounded! Wow. You need to learn who the enemy is.

    • Juliet

      I’m just going to say. ” ouch!” on behalf of the writer of this article. Would The Gentle Shepherd have made this comment?

      • MarciH

        Yes, have you not read the gospels? Jesus was pretty harsh sometimes. And not just to the Pharisees. He had some pretty hard words to say to his own disciples sometimes

        • Barbara Nutall

          Amen MarciH

  • Sister Barbara

    First, this makes me want to contact an older pastor friend of mine, and encourage him. Second, I feel sad for the writer. I wish he could have attended pastor retreats away from home, and taken more personal sabbath time -even God rested. And more than anything, I wish he could fall hopelessly and totally in love with Jesus, and not loose his first love.

  • voice of reason

    Nothing profound to say….. what is there to say? Anyone who thinks they have some great profound pat answer for this, didn’t read it with an open heart. Never been a pastor.. but have been a music minister…. It’s not easy being a spiritual cheer leader basically 24/7 there every Sunday no matter what. Especially iif there is no replacement for you when you need a Sunday off……

    You don;t get to be sad, you don;t get to be mad, ministry is the ultimate fish bowel and no offense but sometime those you minister to sometimes might as well be piranhas. There are ministers who are just as bad so I am not saying they are perfect but many of them tolerate life conditions we would never consider accepting…. we put them on pedestals then look for any reason we can find to knock them off. We hold ministry people to standards no human can stand up to and wonder why they fail….. What hypocrites we can be…… Be blessed all

  • Steve Gibson

    Having read your article very slowly , I am in agreement with you. Our spiritual nature is to serve, but our human nature is to compare ourselves to others and the ability to say what we really want to say. At the end of the day, I could support my family in other ways, but I cannot see myself in any other profession. When I was teaching Worship in the University I would suggest to my students the following: I do not know the extent of God’s call upon your life, but if there is any doubt, try any other profession. If after trying everything else you still long for ministry, then we’ll work to strengthen your ministry skills.

  • Ray Schwartz

    There is always more to the story … than the story. And having served in both good to abusive congregations – after 38+ years of ministry … I want to say thank you. Thank you for not only writing the obvious – but for doing so as a preventive message for others. Thank you for years of service reflecting faithfulness to our Lord. Its a privilege never a right … to be called ‘Pastor.’ Selah.

  • Paul Rubillos

    Maybe the reason why most of us feel exhausted in ministry is because we often think that it is all about us. Being a Pastor is not born of man, but its a Calling from Above. Its a priviledge to be called, out of God’s grace. God is our Shepherd. JESUS CHRIST must be the center of our ministry, not us.

  • Crystal

    You may be a few years removed, but you still sound like a whiner. Did you think that you wouldn’t have struggles, just like everyone else? For you to say I am a former minister never to return makes me wonder why you answered the call in the first place. Was it because you came from a long line of preachers? It might have been more important for you to write an article about walking in the wrong calling as opposed to pastor’s secrets. I was disappointed that you think you can speak for 9 out of 10 ministers.

    • Jac

      nice show of grace in your comment. (sense the sarcasm). As a current minister I think he hits the nail on the head and is not whining, but rather offering suggestions to help people understand our struggles and work through them with us.

    • Barbara Nutall

      Crystal, this is definitely whining, crying, boohooing and discouraging for someone who think God does not care enough to protect them while working for him.

  • MarciH

    Just one more thing. This writer says he was in the ministry and now is not. That means one of two things: either he was called to be a pastor, which means that he is now living in disobedience. And in that case, WHY would you listen to a thing he says. OR, he was not called, in which case how can he speak on behalf of someone who really was called , so WHY would you listen to him .

    • Barbara Nutall

      MarciH, I agree with you more than u will ever know…I am confused that he would resign from working for GOD…..We can surly learn what not to do by reading what he said. DON’T GIVE UP ON GOD AND ITSNOT ABOUT ME

  • Scott

    Thank you for the Article Mark… As much as I cannot imagine doing anything else, I think most of your points were spot on. I am stunned and yet not surprised by some of the comments. I am quite certain of my Salvation and yet I am even more certain that I sin on a regular basis as much as I do not want to. Huummmm wasn’t it Paul who spoke of such a struggle??? Obviously I am not as “Holy” as some of our Brothers who so graciously and prayerfully shared their insights in response to your sharing. I hope you have found peace in your new season of life. May God bless you in unexpected ways! To all… James 1:22

  • Barbara Nutall

    Some of these so called Pastors need to GROW UP or give the torch to someone who has the ability to LEAD! If God truly called you, you will be equipped for the journey. Not saying Pastors won’t experience some discouragement every now and then but God has given the tools to sustain any hardship. I personally think that the reason
    some of these Pastor are always advertising what they deal with is because they
    don’t really understand the task. This was a poor example of Pastor’s
    secrets. You don’t trust anybody why? And the flock should trust someone who
    doesn’t trust? I am bothered that you as a minister QUIT. How do you quit
    something God called you to? People that you lead, aren’t designed to
    understand what God has called you to do. I am resigning from this foolishness. You are saying all this to say what? O I get it, your insecurities have gotten the best of you.

    • SamuelRossLee

      Jesus was not a Pastor, and Pastors are not Jesus, you insentive Woman!

      • Barbara Nutall

        Samuel, I’m not insensitive at all. I have been told by many I have a very compassionate heart. I just don’t do pity parties. I believe a man ought to do a man’s job and a woman ought to be able to do a woman’s job. If you can’t, pass
        It to an adult…I expect children to act like this. When you read scripture, there were some that felt like quitting but did not!!’ There were those who committed suicide who obviously missed the mark somewhere. Go back and read the hx of those that did. You will find out a lot. Again, God never equips anyone to fail. I know Pastors who’ve always seem to have this thing about complaining, murmuring and nagging about the call. This article is a mess. This is not all pastors secret… When a pastors want to have a side chik, steal money, sleep with other men and or indulge in other things, as a result they suffer guilt, shame, depression and so forth and as a result, they tend to have all kinds of issues….PAY ATTENTION to some of these Pastors….Listen, I have followed the same pastor for 16 years. He loves and respects his wife and children. His church is successful, he is wealthy, he is brilliant, skilled, full of wisdom, HEARS from God etc and his wife as well. I know he is not perfect but he sure does like hell try to be that EXAMPLE OF CHRIST!!!! Tell my why it happens for one and not the other pastors…I sure hope you’re not one of those pastors who does not spend enough time with God to overcome all these mediocre trials to the point you sound like this person who wrote this article…Some of you guys want people to feel sorrow for you and cater to all your wants…..I wish a lot of y’all really learn what it means to have a heart after God……

        • Taylor

          Barbara, reactions like yours are the reason pastors are afraid to share these things.

          • Barbara Nutall

            Child bye

      • Barbara Nutall

        Jesus may not have been a Pastor but what he did indicates he was one in that day….unless all y’all have it wrong. Jesus displayed the model of what our lifestyle should be, especially those who have been called to the five fold ministry…some of these pastors are not successful because they are negative, they don’t really believe GOD, They don’t have patience to wait on God for nothing. They want all the rewards and no work….It comes a time that we must grow up and leave childish things behind…this article is childish…

  • Barbara Nutall

    I would like to title this ARTICLE, “These are Jesus’s Secrets” Now, all you people who agreed with this foolishness, go back and read slowly as if Jesus was the one who wrote this….that maybe a bad idea….. Jesus never complained about his dealing with people like some of these “leaders” do…. Some of you all couldn’t lead me to hell….