I hate all the pastor’s challenges and difficulties – Part 2

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.

I hate all the pastor’s challenges and difficulties

Now that I have your attention…

I do actually hate all the posts about how hard it is to be a pastor, a pastor’s kid, a pastor’s wife, and probably a pastor’s cocker spaniel. You can see some of them here: (BTW, I’m not trying to pick on Thom Ranier but sadly he is the worst of the bunch. This is understandable since his livelihood depends on selling stuff to pastors and he will be more publicly in their camp).

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/150317-jon-mcintosh-six-reasons-why-pastors-want-to-quit-on-mondays.html

http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/news/2011/03/being-a-pastor-is-hard-and-fai.php#

http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/august/pastors-kid-interview-with-barnabas-piper.html

http://thomrainer.com/2014/02/15/12-reasons-pastors-wives-are-lonely/

http://practicalshepherding.com/2013/07/24/what-are-the-struggles-of-being-a-pastors-wife/

http://thomrainer.com/2014/01/08/seven-things-we-learned-from-pastors-kids/

I could list at least fifty more posts and online articles like these without breaking a sweat. The basic premise is that being a pastor/pastor’s wife/pastor’s kid is uniquely challenging in a way that people will never understand unless we write about it over and over.  They are lonely in a way everyday Christians are not, tempted in ways everyday Christians are not, scrutinized in ways everyday Christians are not and all around face rounds of temptations that are totally foreign to everyday Christians. Some of the articles  even point out how unfair it is since pastors, their wives and kids are so much godlier than everyone else and should not have to suffer in these horrible ways.

There is no doubt there are some things that are expected of those who make a living off the gifts of others, and some of those expectations are unfair. The problem is 1 Corintians 10:13 that says no temptation has come upon us except that which is common to man. These posts tend to make it seem like pastors and their families are more different than everyday Christians than they are the same, but the Bible has a problem with that because from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 says we are all fundamentally the same with fundamentally the same problems and one solution.

Is it true that sometimes pastors’ kids are scrutinized more than other kids at church? Yes. That does not mean there aren’t other settings where everyday Christian’s kids are scrutinized more than their peers, especially if those families are known to be believers in a hostile culture. Is it true that some pastors’ wives are lonely? Yes. Other people are also lonely, either at church or in other settings especially in churches that emphasize Sunday morning services and other structured events more than biblical community. Is it true that pastors can feel inferior when considering the success and celebrity of others in their field? Yes. Almost everyone who has ever worked a job has felt the same thing. Do pastors feel the weight of eternal matters? Yes, I hope they do. So does every Christian who attempts to live on mission for the cause of Christ.

One of the reasons many of these difficulties come to the lives of pastors is this artificial difference they tend to create and perpetuate of how different their lives are. They honestly do bring many of these problems on themselves in intentional and unintentional ways. Even the common practice of never saying anything negative about their family from the pulpit (which is wise in most cases) invites the glass house effect they later complain about by creating an unrealistic public persona of their family.  Many of the problems only continue because the pastor’s own lack of faith and/or fear of man in refusing to enter into a situation that could bring conflict.

In preparing to preach on the second half of Luke 1 tomorrow I’ve been thinking about Mary’s song of praise. It’s really incredible to think about where she chooses to set her her affections and where she chooses not to focus. It’s not that the young girl who produces the “Magnificat” was living a life of gumdrops and unicorns. She had lots of challenges but she focused on the greatness of God’s mission and her total unworthiness to even suffer for Him.

In my next post I will list 10 things pastors should consider when they are tempted to complain about the rigors of pastoral ministry.