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).
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.