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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.