You can’t truly appreciate a pastor that you don’t know.
While you may think that you know him, there are things you may not understand about him and his position. While he will appreciate a card, a meal, or a gift this month, he will appreciate something even more – acknowledgement and understanding.
As a pastor of a local congregation, there are many things I personally struggle with. In addition to my own personal struggles, I work with other pastors, I am friends with other pastors, and I have had the privilege of counseling other pastors. In my time in this pastoral world, here are 21 things you may not know about your pastor:
- We work more than on Sundays. Many congregants make snide comments about pastors only working on Sundays. Honestly, Sunday is the easiest and most-fulfilling day for some pastors, but the weekdays are full of problems, issues, and preparation. We try to make the best use of every day (Eph. 5:15-16), and many pastors feel as if they actually don’t have any day off.
- We never clock-out. Many pastors feel as if they are always on-call. Vacations can be interrupted with an emergency. Saturday plans can be changed due to a need. A call here. A text there. We can’t go into a store without having to be ready to be back in work mode in a moment. Some pastors wish they could escape for a moment and truly rest (Ps. 55:6).
- We have many acquaintances but few friends. We know many people but are known by very few. We long to have true friends (Prov. 18:24).
- We struggle meeting unrealistic expectations. Yes, we have been trained, but we are not experts in everything. We shouldn’t regard ourselves as superior (1 Cor. 4:7) and we get scared when you think of us that way.
- We are burdened with others’ burdens. We hear bad news more often than good news. While bearing so many burdens is what we are called to do (Gal. 6:2), it gets exhausting.
- We are burdened with our own burdens. We are anxious about our own marriages, parenting, finances, health, and friendships. We are not exempt from hardship and carry many burdens ourselves (1 Pet. 5:7).
- We drive with many backseat drivers. Pastoring is one of the only jobs I know that is surrounded with people who have no formal education or practical experience in this area and yet feel compelled to share how we could do our jobs better. Trust and esteem goes a long way (1 Thess. 5:12-13).
- We would change more in the church than you can imagine. You think your pastor is changing a lot? I guarantee there is a list of things he wishes he could do but unsure if now is the time. In an effort not to be domineering (1 Pet. 5:3), we really are going slower than you could imagine.
- We rarely get asked how we are doing. It is rare for someone to reach out to us without an issue or problem but for the simple purpose of encouraging us (1 Thess. 5:11).
- We take it personal when people leave. We try to shepherd people with the heart of God (Jer. 3:15), and when you leave for trivial reasons, it is really discouraging especially after all the time we watched over you.
- We struggle with temptation just like you. We don’t have it all together and we can easily fall into temptation (1 Cor. 10:12).
- We can’t come to everything. In your mind, it is just one event, but if we went to every church member’s one event, we don’t have time to sleep. We number our days and try to live wisely (Ps. 90:12). It’s not that we don’t want to but sometimes we simply can’t.
- We don’t like all of our co-workers. We might love them all, but we don’t like them all. Sometimes disgruntled workers desire to leave due to the internal strife (Acts 15:39), and sometimes we just have to learn how to bear with those people who simply get on our nerves (Col. 3:13).
- We don’t like all church members. Some church members are a joy to shepherd, and some are a nuisance to shepherd (Heb. 13:17). We are trying to love you and like you, but some of you are making it extra difficult. We are striving for patience (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
- We crave specific feedback. After we have poured our hearts out over a sermon, we appreciate an encouraging word, but we love something specific with which you could encourage (Heb. 3:13). Don’t just say it was good, tell us what you are changing as a result of it.
- We love to talk about church. We desired the position to be a pastor (1 Tim. 3:1), and we love it. We love talking about what God is doing there. We love sharing ideas and dreams.
- We love to talk about something other than church. We also love to unplug. Sometimes we like to talk about football, food, and families. Sometimes, can we just talk about common graces in everyday life (Ps. 145:9)?
- We struggle maintaining consistent spiritual disciplines. You aren’t the only one who struggles. We have to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7). We don’t wake up with the Word in hand ready to go.
- We love your family but love our families more. If we can’t care for our family, we are disqualified from caring for your family (1 Tim. 3:4-5). We love you, but we need time with them. They deserve that as well.
- We think about quitting. Sometimes we are tired, frustrated, and discouraged to a level you can’t imagine. We want to throw in the towel but pray for that fire to be lit in us again (Jer. 20:9).
- We desire lives to change. We pray and work for a mighty movement of God. We are not perfect, but at the end of the day, we want to be a part of God doing something great in lives around us (Ps. 85:6).
I am sure I missed something on this list, but I hope it opens your eyes to how you could truly appreciate your pastor this month and every month after that!
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.
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