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Pastors are a misunderstood lot. Whether you are a pastor or have a pastor, you may have experienced some of this misunderstanding. A lot of people have a lot to say about how the pastor can do his job better. We’re not going to attempt that right now. Instead, we’re going to share a bit of advice that could save your pastor from burnout, and make his life a whole lot easier.

It’s called understanding your pastor.

1.  Your pastor is tired. Fatigue is part of the job. But it’s still tough to be tired a lot. Those 3am sick calls can really take a toll.

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’s going through a divorce, or the mother struggling with guilt over an abortion, or maybe the allegations of misconduct that someone has charged him with. 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 pastor is 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 two or three (or more) times a week for thirty or forty minutes at a stretch, those feelings can pile up. And they are so uncomfortable.

6.  Your pastor is juggling 91 balls in the air. The pastor has so many things to do — so many people to pray for, so many counseling situations to keep straight. Pardon the occasional dropped ball.

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7.  Your pastor just got a piece of sizzling hate mail from a hater. Those 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 a church, but first of all, he leads a family.

10.  Your pastor wants you to know that the occasional game golf is not always a waste of his time. Pastors can have hobbies. It gives them the time to unwind and relax. We all need that. 

11.  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.

12.  Your pastor is really trying. Be gracious. Accept his blunders. Encourage him on tough days. Just try to understand. 

Basically, understand that your pastor is member of the species Homo sapiens, and is therefore entitled to the dispositions, predilections, emotions, and struggles common to said species.

To understand your pastor is to love your pastor. Pastors, like everyone else, get by each day with a few bruises, a bit of stress, and a lot of grace. By understanding your pastor better, you can help him as he faces the challenges of ministry life. And as you understand him better, he will be able to help you better, too.

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About The Author

Daniel Threlfall has been writing church ministry articles for more than 10 years. With his background and training (M.A., M.Div.), Daniel is passionate about inspiring pastors and volunteers in their service to the King. Daniel is devoted to his family, nerdy about SEO, and drinks coffee with no cream or sugar. Learn more about Daniel at his blog and twitter.

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10 Responses

  1. Andrea Foster

    Not all pastors are men!!!!! God calls whom God chooses. Whether you agree or not, all pastors go through the same things!

    • Ayo Paul

      It’s not really about pastors going through the same thing.
      I believe it’s just for the congregation to try to undestand some few things pastors pass through.

    • Mark

      Amen to your comment, Andrea. I copastor with my wife and our church members need to understand that these very things apply to both of us.

    • admin

      Thanks for your comment, Andrew, as well as your followup, Ayo and Mark.

      I wrote this article in full understanding that many women pastors would read it as well as men. Please understand that I mean no disrespect to the many women who serve the Lord faithfully as pastors. True, “not all pastors are men.” We agree.

      Due to writing conventions, we’ve used the pronoun “he” to denote both men and women who serve in the pastoral role. I think you’ll agree that always using “he or she” in the place of “he” would be a cumbersome and stilted read.

      Without being pedantic, the use of masculine pronouns can refer to antecedents of indeterminate gender, which can of course include women as pastors. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_neutrality_in_English#Pronouns) In keeping with our editorial guidelines (from the Chicago Manual of Style), we have adopted this approach.

      I hope that explanation helps in some way.

      • Sandie

        Yes I agree admin. When I read these articles I always assume he is also she. Having he/she really does interrupt the flow of a good read. There are many places in the Bible where ‘he’ also means she.
        Great article that both my male and female Pastors would appreciate.

  2. Peggy

    Enjoyed this. I am going to share it with the congregation on the back of our next calendar.

    We need something for the pastor’s wife. She is forgotten often.

  3. Deborah

    Beautiful message. Pastors are often thought to be perfect.

  4. Carolyn

    To some above, don’t shift the message above on Pastors by focusing on yourself. It did not say others are not misunderstood also. The article is talking about pastors,who are very misunderstood! I’ve been a pastor’s wife for 26 years and unless you walk in his shoes you will never understand the burden and responsibility placed on him. Although I’m his partner in the ministry, wife of 38 years and can feel when he’s burdened I don’t know the full impact that the ministry and people have on him. Peggy, you are so right about the pastor’s wife. Next to the pastor she is misunderstood.

  5. Frank Tan

    Thank you all faithful servants of God! May our good LORD bless your family, grant you wisdom, strength and guidance as you shepherds His flocks. May God grant us all a willing heart to serve and participate in whichever ministry we can do that we may help lighten our pastors’ roles so that he may have better insight of God’s view for the churches. God bless you all !

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