If you were to ask me the top five reasons why I feel like a failing pastor I would say:
- People don’t come to my church; even “regulars” don’t come very “regular.”
- The testimony of the families in our church is, shall we say, sub-par.
- I never feel entirely sure what I’m supposed to do with people.
- Surely if I were succeeding I would not be crying over this church as much as I do.
- Minuscule levels of what is termed “successful evangelism” are taking place.
I’ve heard people confirm my failure in regard to these issues. Many happy pastors would immediately condemn my pastoring based on these five things, (probably with the exception of the crying thing because that sounds very spiritual and “should be that way,” but you probably don’t fully understand the source of those tears, which is mostly just complete pain and agony rather than intercession).
I’ve heard many non-pastors say in relation to these things, “You should quit then.” Perhaps, but these same people will trot out the “Nothing worthwhile is every easy” line if I dare discuss quitting.
In the end, the main reasons I’m frustrated as a pastor are not personal. I actually feel like I’m growing, in fact, it’s not even a feeling, I know I am. I can see it. I’m a different person from who I was when I began as a pastor, and in all honest humility, I much prefer the person I am today. Being a pastor has made me more caring, more compassionate, more loving, and more patient.
My knowledge of Scripture has had to grow from speaking three times a week for 20 years. I just know stuff that, I don’t care how much pain I endured to get it, is totally worth it.
Most of my frustration is based on flesh notions: wanting more respect and less humiliation. I want to see obvious, visible change in people, but mostly so I can feel better about myself and have the ability to point to evidence that defends my efforts. Pride screws up everything.
One of the amazing things about this stupid Failing Pastor Twitter account I started is how many pastors around the world it’s brought me into contact with. Pastors who have experienced similar, and in many cases, worse things than I have. There’s camaraderie.
I like that. I probably even need that. I’m like Elijah, “Lord, I’m all alone; no one else has suffered like me.” And the Lord says, “Oh stop, I have 7,000 other pastors who went through the same stuff.”
Being a pastor is not the hardest job in the world. Other people have job issues too. Everyone gets judged unfairly and has creepy people do creepy things to them. Pastors have no monopoly on this. In many ways the pastoral job is quite frankly awesome. It’s the results that usually suck!
The results suck the life out of me. They are the things that make me cry and feel completely pathetic. I want results to be faster, better, more obviously demonstrating my skill and pastoral acumen. I want some stinking validation that I know what I’m doing!
Is that too much to ask?
So, I do the job based on how the Bible says to do it as best I can with the spiritual enablement given to me through the Gospel and my membership in the Body of Christ. I’ll let God deal with the increase.
Keep plugging away.