Every year of my shepherding journey, this awkward month rolls around called ‘October’ which has been deemed “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Mostly, I shuffle my ego during this month as it reminds me of how incapable I am in this role. I know I’m not alone as most of us clergy-folk would rather put our proverbial noses to the ministry grindstone and do what it takes to reach people for Jesus than to receive accolades for that which we feel woefully incapable of doing.
As I reflect on this calling, I thought it helpful to rehearse 5 feelings with which your pastor may juggle in any given week of serving this beautifully messy thing called, ‘The Church’. Please know that I don’t pretend to be the voice of the pastorate, but hopefully you’ll find this non-exhaustive list helpful.
- JOY/HAPPINESS. I know that’s two and there’s a difference but I’m sewing them together for this. When we hear that in some small way, God used our words, our presence or our smile to make someone love Jesus more, it joyfully reaffirms and reawakens our reason for doing what we do. That makes us happy.
- FEAR. Having God whisper a new or augmented vision for the church we serve, most of us try to write it off as the effects of last nights tainted shellfish that wasn’t fully cooked. Yet, when God doesn’t let us off the hook and the new idea is confirmed by a few others in the church, fear begins his assault.
- FRUSTRATION. Dive deep into the heart of your Pastor and most of you will find a heart that loves Jesus and wants others to know Him as well. Sometimes we want to push our timelines and not His. Sometimes we don’t understand why you don’t see what’s in our heads. Sometimes we expect you in the pew to change based on one sermon or letter blast that 3% of you read. We get frustrated. We sometimes get numb and sometimes we may do things out of this feeling that we wish we could take back.
- INSECURITY. We are trained in theology, church history and Law-Gospel preaching. Some of us have specific and enduring training in counseling, care ministry or outreach. Rarely are we trained in how lead an organization with budgets, staff and programs. We shoot from the hip and hope we don’t blowup anything important. Many times a week, we feel more like imposters than pastors. God help us.
- OVERWHELMED. The job is never done and yes, we do work more than 2 hours on Sunday. Because most of us love what we do, we make ourselves available sometimes to the detriment of our families, other times to the detriment of other work. It piles up and sometimes it ‘hits the fan’ and retreat is our only perceived option.
Okay, I’ll add one more:
- HONORED. The role of pastor is a serving role. It is a role that helps steward the mysteries of God’s spiritual realm called the ‘Kingdom’. In the quiet of our souls, we know what a huge risk God took when he called us into church-work. We know our sin and pray you don’t. We feel immersed in the knowledge of our incapability as it applies to the perceived pastor-role. ‘Honored’ seems to be a white-washed word when it describes being able to serve the God of the universe by serving you.
We love you, Church, and most of us do our best. While the above list seems to be negatively weighted, the joy we find in the small moments of our day far outshines the duties of the office. I hope I speak for all of us when I say that it is a privilege to serve along side of you to help create environments through which the Holy Spirit can change lives.
[Pastors: Here’s a free little resource that may help. “5 Ways To Balance Your Life.”]