It has been a challenging year for us all, but have you ever considered how your pastor is doing? As a pastor, I know the challenges of navigating your own life while also trying to help so many others.
While I have the privilege to serve a very healthy church family, I have many friends in ministry who feel very discouraged with the rising challenges among a church body.
I have read many studies of the rise in recent years of pastors quitting the ministry. The fallout of recent times seems to indicate that the trend will increase.
Here are some of the leading causes:
- Varied Criticism – Criticism is hard to hear, but it is maddening when you get it from two opposing sides. Oftentimes, pastors take one path and have people of differing opinions both dissatisfied.
- Mounting Anxiety – The stress of decisions for a church is difficult, and the weight can be overwhelming. The pastor who entered the ministry to help people can be undone with the fear of failing or making the wrong call.
- Decision Fatigue – Especially during these days, the need to make decisions seems unending. It is easy to make so many decisions that you feel like you can’t trust your own judgment anymore.
- Frustrating Systems – Many pastors feel the weight to carry all the responsibility to see a church grow with none of the authority to make the decisions. Poor systems and discouraging sidetracks can leave a pastor unable to do his job.
- Discouraging Decline – You might try to chalk up a church’s decline to factors outside of your control, but oftentimes, pastors struggle with insecurities for why people leave after they have served them so tirelessly.
- Alarming Finances – If a church declines in attendance or membership, finances can become a nerve-wracking concern. With so many needs, something has to go which puts greater pressure on the pastor.
- Never-Ending Workload – It seems as if the needs never stop coming. In this digital culture, even when you are “off,” a simple text message can get your mind right back into “work.”
- Increasing Expectations – Many pastors feel as if they have to be preacher, counselor, teacher, administrator, accountant, facilitator, politician, theologian, mind-reader, mobilizer, chaplain, and so much more. Unrealistic expectations burn many pastors out.
- Unnecessary Drama – Many pastors feel like the things that cause division are inconsequential. When a pastor spends his life on important issues only to be criticized on trivial issues, that environment can be a source of major discouragement.
- Unfortunate Isolation – Pastors are often called for help but rarely called by someone offering help. This type of demand by others causes many pastors to feel without real friends, trustworthy confidants, or selfless servants.
While we all struggle, have you ever considered that your pastor may struggle as well?
I honestly write this as an optimistic pastor at a very healthy church. While I have my struggles and headaches, I write this post on behalf of other pastors who cannot write what I am writing for fear of retaliation.
Your pastor isn’t perfect, but neither are you, and neither is your church (both of you are part of it).
If your church is known for a pastoral revolving door, you might need to evaluate why that is.
If you want to help your pastor, here are some simple ways:
- Pray for your pastor.
- Encourage your pastor.
- Support your pastor privately.
- Support your pastor publicly.
- Don’t sidetrack your pastor on unnecessary issues.
- Consider the timing and the demeanor of presenting your concerns.
- Understand that they answer to God first.
On behalf of your pastor and your very soul, consider each of these words very carefully:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.Hebrews 13:17
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.