Being a pastor is a really tough job. (That right there was an understatement.) As if being a pastor isn’t tough enough, there are some weird ideas that pastors get about other pastors. These misconceptions just makes everything worse. Here are ten of the most common lies that pastors believe about other pastors.
10 Lies Pastors Believe about Other Pastors
- The other pastor has a really high salary. If you entered the ministry because of the high pay, you probably left a long time ago. Very few pastors make a lot of money from being a pastor. The average salary for a pastor ranges from $28,000 to $31,200. If you make more than that, you’re doing pretty well.
- The other pastor doesn’t have any issues in his marriage. Marriages always look better from the outside than they do from the inside. A couple that appears to be smiling and spiritual may have just had a raging domestic squabble before they walked out the door to church. 77% of pastors feel that they don’t have a good marriage. Every marriage has its rough spots. Prayerfully and lovingly work on your own.
- The other pastor has a lot of time to prepare for his messages. Some bright-eyed, innocent Bible students think that they will have tons of time to prepare messages and study the Bible once they get into the ministry. They’re in for a disappointment. It is vitally important to spend time in the Word, and diligently prepare Bible messages, but you will always be longing for more. Most pastors do.
- All of the other pastor’s people really like him. Do you really think that a pastor—any pastor—has 100% approval ratings in his church? It’s a lie.
- The other pastor has a lot of talented people in his church. Since churches depend on volunteer work, a talented churchgoer is a prized possession. Pastors love it when someone attends their church who knows computers, who can build them a website, or who is an ex-rockstar guitarist. But not every pastor has the talent pool that he wishes he had. In fact, probably none.
- The other pastor doesn’t struggle with weight gain. Do you ever feel like you’re the fastest growing preacher in your area? (We’re not talking about the size of your church.) Others struggle with it, too. Worried about hair loss? It is common to man—even the other pastor.
- The other pastor has never thought about leaving the ministry. A pastor who never considers leaving the ministry is a rare bird. 89% of pastors toy with the idea of jetting, and 57% said that would totally leave if they had a better option. Your nibbling preoccupation about leaving the ministry is not uncommon.
- The other pastor has all the theological questions figured out. 75% of pastors feel inadequately trained for the ministry. There is no such thing as pastor who has all the questions answered, and all the issues solved. You’ll always go into a counseling session feeling a bit nervous about the tough question.
- The other pastor has lots of time to go to tons of pastor’s conferences. (In fact, he might even be invited to speak at one.) I’m all about good pastor’s conferences. You really should try to go. Realistically, however, few pastors are going to tons of pastors conferences. But what about those pictures of crowded pastor’s conferences? They’re full of Bible school students who got to go for free.
- The other pastor probably has a really cool blog. There are only three really cool pastor blogs out there. The guy across town probably doesn’t have one of them. Blogging is a great idea, but don’t feel like you have to have one to be a good pastor.
Over time, we’ve come up with this strange ideal of what a pastor is supposed to do and be. And, somehow, the other pastor fits that ideal. It may be a good idea to readjust your ideal (or maybe to study up on depravity). But that’s not the main problem.
We all have the tendency to compare ourselves with other people. This is always a bad idea. If the other guy really is a lot better than you (which he may or may not be) you might become envious, spiteful, or self-focused. If you are a lot better than the other guy (which you may or may not be), you might become arrogant, and condescending. Either way, it leads to pride.
Being a pastor can be a discouraging job. There are tons of things to get discouraged about. Temptation to moral failure. Desire for more money. That person in your church who just ticks you off. The burned-out sensation you feel every day. The hospital visit at the worst possible time. The late night phone calls. The pitiful offerings. Tough, tough, tough. And, to top it all off, you feel like a horrible pastor. If they had a Worst Pastor of the Year award, you feel as if you would be nominated and probably win it.
Set aside your ideals of what you want to become, and find your fulfillment in Christ. He is sufficient. He makes up for your failings, foibles, quirks, and frustrations. If you’re holding up some lofty ideal of who you need to be, you’re never going to get there. You’re always going to be discouraged. Instead, focus on Jesus. He is perfect. He has attained it. And, the good news is, your identity is in Him, not in the pastor you want to be. Do not think of yourself in terms of what you are not. Think about yourself in terms of what Jesus has done for you. That’s your identity. That’s your satisfaction. That’s your joy.
Our God is a God of grace.
Maybe the pastor across town is thinking these things about you—that you have a high salary, cool blog, etc. Maybe you should get together and have coffee together. Set the record straight. It would probably be a big encouragement to both of you.
(Statistics from Barna, ChurchLeadership.org, Focus on the Family, and Fuller Institute.)