In my last post I talked about how all these articles and posts and books about how hard it is to be a pastor and how unique pastoral challenges are compared to “regular” people are both unhelpful and unbiblical. Paul was very clear when writing to Timothy – Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). It’s not just pastors who have a hard time when following Christ’s call closely.
This post is a quick reminder to current and future pastors that while there are certainly some challenges that come with being a pastor – especially one that is paid by the church – there are plenty of difficulties that are generally avoided by that particular vocation as well.
Co-worker difficulties. Mercifully, generally the co-workers a pastor has also love Jesus. This doesn’t mean that everyone on a church staff gets along perfectly and certainly there are times when the entrenched sin of a vocational pastor spills out on all those around him. Still, this is nothing compared to what everyday Christians generally have to deal with in their vocations. Regular believers have to deal with everything imaginable ranging from subtle scorn to social shunning to outright persecution in the workplace. Pastors should be thankful they do not have this level of burden.
Oppressive workplace. In addition to challenges with co-workers, everyday Christians have to deal with policies that range from distasteful to punitive from a Christian worldview. Pastors do not have to regret their productivity paying for a co worker’s sex change operation, same sex marriage benefits or predatory business practices.
Selective Seclusion. Pastors generally get to work in a nice office that is relatively secluded when they want it to be. Some even build private bathrooms into their new buildings so they don’t have to interact with everyday Christians when they don’t want to. The everyday Christians who paid for that bathroom don’t usually get that benefit. In fact, they have to share the bathroom with the co-worker whose sex change operation their productivity just paid for.
Generally realistic expectations. Yes, it’s true that pastors can serve those with unrealistic expectations. This should not happen and is often simply the result of the pastor’s fear of man kicking in and his inability to say “no” to anyone. While these unfair expectations can crop up, they almost always fall into the realm of extreme examples of things pastors should be committed to anyway such as a counseling appointment at the last minute or extra care for a church member. Compared to some of the things my employer or clients have asked me to do over the year (e.g fly to Australia for a one hour meeting on two days notice), these unfair expectations are pretty tame.
Travel. Generally, pastors don’t have to leave their families for extended or frequent trips as many everyday Christians do. The notion that business travel is a perk is held mostly by those who have not traveled for business. It presents a lot of problems, opportunities for conflict within a family and temptations that the stay at home pastor will forever be spared.
Danger. At least in the west, being a pastor is not a dangerous job. This alone is reason to be thankful both because you are a pastor and you are in the west. The reality is that unless you are a military chaplain, there is almost no chance you will be one of the 5,000 Americans who dies or 3.5 million who are injured every year as a result of their work. Those of you who just scoffed at this should immediately quit your job and apply to be a high rise window washer or construction worker.
Culture of Truth. Perhaps the biggest thing pastors ought to be thankful for is that the charter for the organization (the Bible) is on their side in every conflict they have. Pastors want more engagement from the body? The Bible supports it. Pastors’ wives want less isolation? The Bible supports that. Pastor’s kids want to be treated like every other kid? The Bible supports that. For a pastor who is not controlled by fear of man, he has 100% of the tools he needs to live a joyful and productive life. Everyday Christians don’t have that luxury because most of the corporate cultures they work within are totally opposed to yhe Scriptures, either because they are committed to corporate greed on one hand or social liberalism on the other.
Pastors should lead the way in seeing the good hand of God in all of life and stop complaining about how hard life is without sales goals, performance reviews, unbelieving bosses and co-workers and anti-God corporate cultures. It really is a pretty sweet gig.