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The Internal Battles of Even the Best Pastors

Truth: Your Pastor is weak. He’s flesh. He’s human, frail, and doesn’t always have it all together. He may be faithful to God and thereby filled with the Holy Spirit, but there’s always a secret side to him. He will probably never mention it in a sermon or a Deacon’s meeting. Chances are, he won’t even tell his wife, but he endures battles.

I’ve been a Pastor for thirteen years, and I’ve fought these battles for all of that time. I just want to advocate for your Pastor today to tell you a few things you probably weren’t aware of.

Your Pastor Battles Loneliness

Pastors are surrounded with people who love them, but who often don’t know them intimately. They are celebrated on Sunday, but wonder on a slow Friday morning if they’ll ever enjoy a deep friendship with anyone. Call him and encourage him.

Your Pastor Battles Feelings of Inadequacy

Most Pastors today are expected to be great preachers, teachers, counselors, hospital chaplains, advisors, financial managers, publicists, apologists, scholars, organizers, recruiters, and sometimes maintenance men. That’s a lot of pressure. Most Pastors are hard-wired to do one or two of those things well, so it’s a virtual guarantee he feels like he’ll never meet your expectations in all of those other areas. Call him and encourage him.

Your Pastor Battles Uncontrollable Outcomes

Years ago, I started designing websites. It’s therapeutic. I can type a few lines of code and perfectly predict how the result will work. People are different. Pastors counsel, advise, plead and beg, but some teenagers still rebel. Some marriages still end in divorce. Some addicts return to their old habits. Call him and let him know he’s making a difference in somebody’s life. Otherwise, he may never know.

By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?

Your Pastor Battles Temptation

All believers do, but Pastors are on the front lines and Satan hates them. Pray for him… daily. Never miss a day. And maybe, today, call him and pray for him over the phone. In thirteen years of pastoral ministry, I prayed with hundreds of church members over the phone. Every now and then, one would surprise me and pray for me. Talk about making a Pastor’s day!

Your Pastor Battles Fatigue

At times, it’s short term. Other times, it’s long term, but your Pastor gets tired in the same way you do, especially during seasons when the church is growing and doing well. Send him to a retreat. Let him know it’s okay to take a day off.

Your Pastor Battles Doubts About the Future

He has most likely read a hundred books on church growth written by guys who made it look so easy. Start with five people, add water and multiply to thousands and get speaking engagements all over the country. Your Pastor asks now and then, “will I ever get there?” Call him and share with him one success story you’ve noticed within your church family. Remind him that it isn’t about the masses of unknown people, it’s about that one.

The fact that your Pastor struggles with these issues doesn’t make him less qualified as a shepherd, it makes Him more so. The writer of Hebrews said of Jesus, “Since He Himself has gone through suffering and temptation, He is able to help us when we are being tempted.” (Heb. 2:18 NLT) That’s true of your Pastor as well.

Call him.
Send him a note.
Send an email.
Pray for him.

Pastors are heroes. Show yours a little love today.

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  1. I can definitely say I agree with all of this. As a pastor, I didn’t even realize it as much until I just read it all here. Great post. Thank you.

  2. Great post. Acknowledgment that we must also look at the pastor as a person is a huge step in any ministry. Understanding all of these issues and ongoing challenges also point to the fact that internal congruence is key for effective ministry. Henri Nouwen (1979) put out the image of the “Wounded Healer” and argued that each pastor’s personal internal wounds are the grounds for being able to bring out the sensitivity needed for real, empathetic connections with counseling participants. Pastoral congruence is so critical from this lens.

    But just as important to note that those pastors who either ignore or are not aware of their own woundedness can effectively be a time bomb within the church. This liability occurs when pastoral ego dysfunction [a term Philip Culbertson uses] is not significantly attended to (or in the process of) before engaging in any sort of public ministry.

  3. This is a fine post, and I don’t doubt that it is true. The fact that my pastor shared this on facebook should tell me something. Having said that I have been around churches and pastors all my life (my dad was one). I have not been around any other group of people who are so regular to tell people how hard they have it. Trust me when I say that these days as a small business owner there are lots of hats to wear, lots of families depending on you to help put food on their tables, and oh by the way lots of people want me to commit to responsibilites at church too.

    I do Love my pastor, but know that life on this side of eternity is just hard—for all of us.

    • Peba, that’s true. But I write a blog about ministry and I write it for Pastors, so I’m speaking to a specific audience. I would also throw in that Pastors are responsible for the souls of a lot of people. It isn’t that life is hard for Pastors, it’s that the responsibility is so weighty.

  4. Great reminder and great timing as I needed to be reminded I’m not the only one with these issues. Got the Elijah syndrome at the moment. Thanks for your ministry.

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