Dear Troubled Pastor
I’m writing this to you because I know you have few that will. I’m well aware of how difficult it is being a pastor in this day and age. I’m well aware that at least 1500 ministers leave the ministry per month not because they are retirement age, but they are burnout and bummed out. I’m also well aware that most pastors don’t have a pastor for themselves. So, if you don’t mind I would like to stand in the gap for you. Here are a few things I feel led to say.
First of all, don’t put your work before your walk. Each of us know our own humanity. We need to walk with God just as much as anyone else does. In fact, we need an above average closeness with God so that He can be our strength. Otherwise, we can’t expect much to flow through us if much is not being allowed to poured into us. For sure, pay more attention to your creator than your critics.
Secondly, you will never please everybody. Jesus didn’t and neither is it in our job description. You can either aim to please God or man. You definitely can’t choose both if you ever want to live focused. Everybody is a great coach from the bleachers, but most don’t understand what it’s like to be the head coach. So, live to please the one that has called you not the ones who think they hired you.
Thirdly, remember your first ministry at all times. Your marriage should not take a backseat to anyone. You may be at your church for a season, but you’re called to be married for a lifetime. Behind any healthy pastor is a healthy marriage. And, if that marriage isn’t healthy enough ministry will reveal it with time. You don’t have to apologize to anyone for taking time for your wife or children. If all else fails don’t let your family be at the top of the chopping block.
Fourthly, I know you always feel under demand. Only by my health failing me did I realize how unhealthy I always did ministry for nearly 25 years. Literally I let the demand dictate every piece of my life and joy. Listen, the demand of one more bleeding soul will always be there. You’ve got to say 9 no’s for every 1 yes. You’ve got to keep balance in life or ministry will turn your entire life upside down. Burnout is a real thing and if you don’t take the necessary breaks you will become it’s next victim.
Last but not least, I know you’re just another man. You have your own struggles, griefs, addictions, and even deal with seasons of depression. Don’t present yourself as some perfect saint. In fact, seize every moment possible to be real with others who sincerely care about your wellbeing. Whether that be a friend, family member, another pastor, a licensed counselor, and especially your congregation. You have to take care of yourself or you won’t be available to care for others long. Whatever you might be going through don’t be too prideful to ask for help or just a little encouragement.
A Concerned/Imperfect Pastor