Oct
09

Ten Things Pastors Hate About Pastoring

By Thom S. Rainer

Some of these things are universal among pastors. Some, like funerals, are nuanced by the Orthodox experience, but I (Fr. John) say, if you’re not talking about the Resurrection at every funeral anyway, you don’t understand the difference between the purpose of the wake and the purpose of the funeral. Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The expectations of a pastor are endless. Many members expect them to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. But different pastors are wired differently. One pastor may get great fulfillment out of counseling, while another dreads every minute of it.

So I did an informal and unscientific survey of pastors. I asked them a simple question: “What do you like least about being a pastor?” The question was opened-ended and they could give more than one response.

I learned two things from this survey. First, pastors can have strong opinions about what they don’t like. Second, pastors are really different. The responses were wide-ranged and often in opposition to each other.

So here are the top ten things pastors don’t like about pastoring. I’ve listed them in reverse order. I then follow each dislike with a comment from a representative pastor.

10. Dealing with budgets and finance.

“I have a pastor friend who has a finance major. He was in business before he went to seminary and he loves working with numbers. Not me. I get nauseas at the thought of working on the church budget.”

9. Weddings.

“Emotions are usually high at weddings. Some people are difficult to handle. Plus the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception take away my whole weekend. I wish we could pass a law that no weddings can take place during college football season.”

8. Announcements in the worship service.

“This past Sunday I was asked to announce that one of the older Sunday school classes was having a garage sale to raise money to repair the pipe organ. Their hearts were right, but I had to talk about a garage sale and a pipe organ right before I preached.”

7. Persistent critics.

“You have to deal with critics if you are a pastor. I just struggle with those who are always on me about something. They never let up. It can be demoralizing.”

6. Anonymous critics.

“I shouldn’t even let anonymous critics bother me. If they don’t have the courage to use their name, I have no reason to dwell on it. But, I’ve got to admit, it really bugs me. I find myself wondering throughout the day who it might be.”

5. Counseling.

“I really envy those pastors who are counselors. They get energized by listening to people at their points of need and hurt. I have to admit that my mind wanders and I watch the clock. I don’t think I really help anybody when I counsel.”

4. Treating spouses like they are paid staff members.

“I really hurt for my wife because we have one church member that expects her to put in the same amount of hours at church as I do. My wife is taking care of our three preschool children at home, but she feels guilty every time the church member talks to her.”

3. Supporters who don’t support pastors publicly.

“One guy was ripping into me at our last business meeting. But he didn’t bother me as much as my so-called supporters who remained silent the whole time. They’ve told me that they are behind me, but they weren’t there for me when I needed them the most.”

2. Funerals of non-Christians.

“I’ve been a pastor for nearly thirty years, and I still struggle when I’m asked to do the funeral of someone who never professed Christ. Most of the time my funeral message is directed at the family, and how God will comfort them. It’s still not easy.”

1. Business meetings.

“Let me know if you come across a pastor that actually likes church business meetings. I want to find the secret to his moments of delusion.”

What do you think of this list? What would you add?

Comments

  1. Indeed a good article.
    I would like to list one more, church politics and fightings of members. I really feel Pastor’s will have a very difficult time in handling church politics and non coperative members.

  2. fatherpep says:

    I understand the frustration but I do not understand why this pastor puts up with all this stuff, or why it is necessary. I know of priests who do not have wedding rehearsals. They tell the couple to show up and do what he tells them. Seems to work out OK. Funerals for non-Christians? A non-starter. You weren’t Orthodox or never, ever showed up in church? Sorry-I am not operating a mobile variety show. Announcements? Just time them properly. And what’s wrong with the kids working to fix the organ? (Organ-what is that-some musical device?) If you don’t think you help anyone when you counsel, it may be time to look into that finance career that the other guy had before he became a clergyman. Finally-someone bothering my wife? Try it once. Then you will really believe that before I entered the priesthood I was an investigator for a district attorney’s office and then a state and federal prosecutor. The wife and family are off limits-unless you feel like paying my wife a full salary with benefits and car allowance. Then maybe we can talk.

    • Fr. John A. Peck says:

      I agree, father, but it is easier to say something than to do it, and many Orthodox clergy were NOT working as investigators or in other professional capacities before the priesthood. They feel very trapped and fearful of losing the little income that they have to care for their families, and so foolishly acquiesce to such destructive treatment. Then, of course, the bishop can chime in and really chum the waters for him.

      We post things here to help future clergy see clearly what is expected of them, and what they can expect, if called to this highest of all callings, but you pay for answering this call. By God, you pay.

  3. I would add the assumption of parishioners that the pastor was taught clairvoyance in seminary but it is somehow still you fault.

    “I’m mad that you didn’t come to see me in the hospital!”

    “Did you tell me you were going in the hospital?”

    “No.”

    “Did you or your family call the church office? Or have the Hospital call the church?”

    “No.”

    “Was it published in the local paper that you were admitted to the hospital?”

    “No.”

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