Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Thom Rainer is an author and church consultant.   He also has a blog and his stuff gets frequently circulated among pastors.   His last piece set me off a bit.  Titled "Ten Common Sentiments Pastors Wish They Could Express", this piece reads like a whine-fest.

Here are the sentiments with my own commentary:

1.  “I am struggling with depression.”

I don't wish to share my emotional health issues with you.    I might to let you know that you are not alone in your suffering, but I have a doctor that I talk about these things with. 

2.  “Don’t criticize me right before or after I preach.”

This says a lot more about you than me.  But really, pastors should be made of sterner stuff.   This job can be very challenging at times.   But I think about Paul telling them all he endured for the gospel--5 times he got the lash.   Three times the rod. (2 Cor 11).    A pastor with a delicate ego is in for a short miserable ministry.

3.  “I worry about my family in the church fishbowl.”

Pretty legit, but I also know that it is absurd to think anyone will protect them from this but me.   That's my job as a parent and husband.   And I'll do it well when I need to. If you think I won't, try me.  

4.  “I wish the ‘healthy’ church members in our church would stand up to the bullies and critics.”

Shockingly, churches are filled with people.   You know, the sinful kind.   If your joy in serving is going to be limited to only the times when people do as they ought, ordained ministry is probably not going to be your bag.  

5. “Pray for me; I need it.”

This one is true.   If you aren't praying for your pastor, you are doing the whole Christian-thing wrong. 

6. "I don’t know if we can pay our personal bills.”

Yes, I know some pastors are underpaid.   Thankfully, I'm not one.   And most pastors I know aren't.   But as many pastors as I know that ARE underpaid, I know just as many that are lousy financial planners and would be the sort who have trouble paying personal bills regardless of pay.

7.  “I am so tired of attending mundane meetings.”

Name a career that doesn't have this complaint.   Name one.   Moreover, when the discussion turns to "should we have decaf as well as regular coffee at the bible study" that is a perfect time for a pastor to excuse himself or herself saying, "ok, I think you all can take it from here".   Because they can, you know.  Give them a chance. 

8.  “Don’t ask me to do something right before I preach.”

You can.   I'm just going to forget it.   That's on you, because I've told you.

9;  “I can’t keep up with all the changes in culture and churches.”

No you can't.  No one can.  So don't. Problem solved. 

10.  “It hurts me deeply when we lose a church member.”

Yeah.   I take it personally.   But then I remember its not all about me.  

I asked a seminarian why he was becoming a pastor.   He said people always told him he would make a good pastor because he was "nice".   I don't know where this guy is now, but I doubt he made it in the pastorate very long.    This calling can be tough.   Like any calling, it has it down sides.   You have to have a strong enough ego that you don't crumple under the lightest of criticism.   You have to be humble enough to know that you do things now and again worthy of criticism.    You have to forgive a lot of people that aren't asking for forgiveness.   You have to ask people to forgive you.  

I love being a pastor.   But it's not for wimps.   

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