Eleven Things You Need to Understand about Your Pastor

Lyn Swenson is one of our dear friends and a veteran of decades of ministry in Japan. He is a member of our congregation and a voice always worth hearing.

This Sunday, after the worship gathering Lyn handed me a newsletter from First Baptist Church, Portland, Maine. The newsletter included something that Pastor Keith Moore had received in the mail, and Lyn thought that it might be an encouragement to me. It was.

I am reproducing the list here, which Pastor Moore got from somewhere else. (I’m not sure of the original source.)

  1. Your pastor is tired. Fatigue is part of the job, but it’s still tough to be tired a lot.
  2. Your pastor is dealing with a major problem that you have no idea about. Pastors are masters of concealing private issues-like the deacon who is going through divorce, with a mother struggling with guilt over an abortion. You just never know what he might be dealing with.
  3. Your pastor loves you, but sometimes he needs some time alone. Even though the role of pastors focused on people, he also needs to pray and study the word. Don’t be too miffed about the closed office door. That’s part of his job description.
  4. Your pastor doesn’t feel ready for Sunday’s message. You might feel that way too if there was this book that God wrote, and you were supposed to explain it.
  5. Your pastor feels like Sunday’s message was a flop. Have you ever said something that you later regretted? When you speak for 30 or 40 minutes a stretch, those feelings can pileup. They are so uncomfortable.
  6. Your pastor is juggling 91 balls in the air. The pastor has many things to do-so many people to pray for, so many counseling situations to keep straight. Pardon the occasional dropped ball.
  7. Your pastor just got a piece of sizzling hate mail from a hater. The scathing emails can hurt, even if your pastor does have thick skin. Hopefully the sizzling email did not come from you.
  8. Your pastor is being tempted to sin. Everyone is tempted. Pastors do not ride some plane of supreme sanctification. Even Jesus was tempted.
  9. Your pastor’s family needs his time, attention, and ministry. He leads to church, but first of all, he leads family.
  10. Your pastor struggles with some aspect of his job. It might be counseling. It might be organization. It might be email. It might even be sermons. Cut him some slack, and do what you can to help out-in the nicest way possible.
  11. Your pastor is really trying. Be gracious. Except as blunders. Encourage him on tough days. Just try to understand.

Some of these apply to me more than others, but they are all true. It is easy for people to think the pastor has a job that does not require much of him. It is easy to think that a pastor can handle a lot. We are masters of concealing what is really going on within us. Even someone like me, who is pretty upfront about my struggles, still has to hold back a lot of things because – well, to be honest, they’re none of everyone else’s business.

Pastors have one of the most emotionally demanding, exhausting jobs in the world. So, lift your pastor up in prayer frequently and try to remember that you only see a part of everything that is he is in the middle of.

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