by Jared Moore
Certainly the blessings of ministry far outweigh the realities below, yet ministry is definitely not easy. That is why pastoral ministry must be a calling and not simply a “job”. If you can’t reconcile with these 10 difficult realities and challenges concerning pastoral ministry, then perhaps you should avoid it all together.
from the Aquila Report:
If you enter pastoral ministry…
10. Not everyone will like you.
9. You will make people angry regardless how godly you handle yourself; it comes with the position.
8. You will feel like a failure often, and when you do appear to succeed, the fruit that is produced cannot be accredited to you. God alone gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7). Thus, there is little “sense of accomplishment in ministry” that you may be accustomed to in other vocations.
7. You will fight legalism and liberalism, along with laziness, ignorance, tradition, and opposition. Yet, your greatest enemy will be your own heart (Jer. 17:9).
6. Not everyone will respond positively to your preaching, teaching, or leadership. You will bring people to tears with the same sermon: one in joy, another in anger (I have done this).
5. You will be criticized, rarely to your face, and frequently behind your back. This criticism will come from those that love you, those that obviously do not like you, and pastors and Christians that barely know you.
4. You will think about quitting yearly or monthly, if not weekly or even daily.
3. You will be persecuted for preaching the truth, mostly from your brothers and sisters in the pews. You shouldn’t be surprised by the sight of your own blood. You’re a Christian, after all (Matt. 16:24).
2. You will feel very lonely on a consistent basis, feeling like no one truly knows you or cares how you feel, because you do not want to burden your family, and trust-worthy peers are few and far in-between. Because of the ”super-Christian” myth accredited to pastors literally, you will find it extremely difficult to disclose your deep thoughts and feelings to others. Thus, you will struggle with loneliness.
1. You will probably pastor a church that is barely growing (if at all), is opposed to change, doesn’t pay well, has seen pastors come and go, doesn’t respect the position as Biblically as they should, doesn’t understand what the Bible says a pastor’s or a church’s jobs are, and will only follow you when they agree with you (thus, they’ll really only follow themselves).
You have a lonely and thankless job. More and more I see parish priest not “rocking the boat”, so that they can avoid all of this. Those parishes are not true Orthodox or Catholic parishes, but shells of themselves. You have a lonely and difficult life, but in the end you can stand in front of God with a clean heart and soul knowing that you did what was right, while the parish members will have some explaining to do.
Fr Paul Vermaak says
How true, how true
extremely true… makes me encouraged when the same type of warnings are given to Timothy and Titus. The role of an elder/pastor/overseer is a thankless job, yet the Church is encouraged to pursue this gift and role and there is no greater ambition for a man. We need to pray for our leaders whoever they are. It can be the hardest call out there.
I can only think of Robert redford’s reply to Paul Newman in Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid…
Rev Todd McAdams says
I just simply encourage you with what I found works for me
Keep your eyes higher!
When you look at that which is not on high
You can fall subject to these discouragements easily
“[they] will only follow you when they agree with you (thus, they’ll really only follow themselves).” That stings a bit, but it is so true.
WOW WOW WOW! I could not agree MORE!!! The great thing about it all is that YES it HAS to be a calling! And you that you KNOW it is of God when you had absolutely NO desire to be a title, but meant with ALLLL of your heart you just want to SERVE HIM, and it happens. The closer we draw to him, the more tender hearted we become for his people. If only for ONE! And YES, we NEED to pray for one another. For strength to continue HIS work while we are surrounded by so much of the world, pride, arrogance and HURT. KEEP us humble and reminded of WHO we REALLY serve! Thank you for letting me know I’m NOT ALONE!
Laura Woods says
All so very true, as I fit many if the descriptions.
David Barkley says
I never felt worthy of the ministry and so, in college, majored in English and thought about possible careers. For me, thinking there must be some mistake, the Lord had to keep calling me and kinda twisting my ear…”LISTEN ! YOU are going to DO this !” About 15 years later, I was leaving one parish for another assignment. A dear, dear man ….. and a very humble person who kept food on the table for three generations at home, walked by the parsonage. Guess the Lord spoke to me from what he said,
I called :”Hi, Tom, what brings you by here?” “Hi, Rev” Tom said; “Jes came by to see if you was still here!”.
All those reasons so we won’t forget our place in the lives of those we serve.
Fr. John A. Peck says
Mostly on the bottom of their shoes.
interested in the truth says
only a calling sustains a pastor. it is about living for an audience of ONE.
Fr. John A. Peck says
Respectfully, that is an incredibly dangerous and naive take on a serious topic.
All 10 points are equally valid, I’ve been in the ministry for 19 yrs and 16 of those Pastoring and Church planting. I used to think Pastors that considered quitting were weak and perhaps not called to begin with until I went through a very tough season in ministry. I had to swallow my pride and take a month to get my head straight. The Church was very loving and gracious and worked with us. I struggle often with depression and The Lord helps me daily to work through these issues. I guess what I’m saying is that we (as Pastors) realize that we must simply put God first and trust him for the results we desire.
It’s sad that everything is negative. There are positive aspects about being in ministry. Loneliness was never intended for ANYONE. Pastors can reach out to people outside of their own congregation or to a counselor. The road was not meant to be walked alone. I think this is why pastor’s fall so hard. They let themselves become lonely without accountability. Relax and enjoy the job. There ARE good days!
Bruce Davis says
And just as Mother Theresa suggests we do it anyway & we keep doing it, some of us for more than 30 years, because Jesus says so.
Melvin M. Maxwell says
I assisted Pastors and held full-time positions in ministry for 25 years and watched these 10 realities up close and in living color. I became a Senior Pastor 5 years ago and can say despite these negatives, this journey has been fruitful, fulfilling, fun, and frequently full of laughter. I don’t feel alone because I practice the discipline of accountability with other Senior Pastors as well as friends. Self-care is critical for the ministry. I rest well, exercise, get a massage, go for walks, spend a lot of time dating my wife of 30 years, and keep my family as my priority. I am learning everyday that this call is enormous and requires me to remain in the presence of God daily and often. God alone can bear this ministry, we just have to be His conduit and not His sponge! Pastor Melvin M. Maxwell, East Friendship
Washington, D.C. 20019
Pastor Ron Thomas says
Amen! That exercise regimen and eating right play a huge part in the mental capacity. Not to mention marriage. My wife will not allow me to become fat pastor.LOL!
It doesn’t mention how your episcopal supervisors will want you to solve the church’s problems but then blame you when there is conflict.
Fr. John A. Peck says
That would be number 11 (number one in my book).
Pastor Ron Thomas says
As a young Pastor I often feel those 10 bullet points…but I am encouraged as I think on the good things according to Phillipians 4:8. I am encouraged, because what we preach, teach, and evangelize according to Isaiah 55:11 will not be in vain or return empty. I am encouraged because Romans 10:15 says my feet are beautiful. No matter where I go and speak good news…if no one listens, my vocation will still carry me. I am encouraged because, every blow I’ve taken for the ministry is counted be I do it not because I felt like doing it, but I did so in the matchless name of Jesus Christ according 2 Corinthians 5:10.
This post gives a great Insight on “WHY NOT”. But I’d love to see a follow up on “WHY YOU SHOULD”. The blow of ministry is tough, and the times we live in make that much unbearable. But there are ways around this. Like going to the gym and working out, finding a quiet mountain top and screaming to the top of your lungs to relieve your stress. If I were prospective preacher reading this, I’d run whole heartedly. But I loved the transparency of this article…it shows the humanity in leadership…lets see the positive side to this as well.
Casanova Green says
I totally agree with the entire list. It is hard being a leader in ministry because people want things their way. It is a constant battle but it is so worth it in the end.