Earlier this week I wrote a post about not being sure how long I can continue being a pastor. It received quite a bit of response publicly and privately.
Although it is nice to know I am not alone, how discouraging that this is the place so many pastors are in.
Some pastors are living large and don’t have these feelings or frustrations. Others are frustrated for reasons other than those I expressed. I don’t know what to say about those situations.
I would like to talk to those pastors who are doing what they can to faithfully preach the Word, teach and disciple individuals, and otherwise attempt to fulfill the biblical qualifications and expectations of the pastoral role, and yet are met with apathy, rejection, and mockery.
I think most pastoral frustration, certainly mine, is not a tiredness of work or the church, but just the sheer pointlessness of it. I do my best to faithfully preach God’s Word and it appears the more I endeavor to do this, the more people leave.
My faith does not require the approval of others, but my sincere desires to help people are constantly thwarted. The lives of people who have dropped out of church do not go well. I hurt for them. I don’t know what to do.
This is the time that the happy pastors tell me “There’s nothing you can do. It’s all God.” Which helps nothing, but appears to be top-drawer advice from most.
This advice only adds to my frustration. God is growing everyone else’s church but not mine? Nice to know He’s so helpful. Can I even trust Him? If He’s not on my side, should I even be doing this? Many have told me “no.”
The gates of hell will not prevail against God’s Kingdom. God does not need me to keep the Church alive.
At the same time I have been called to care for one little part of it, to give my life for it, to sacrifice for it, to let my progress in the faith be seen by all, to take heed to my life and my doctrine so that I and my hearers will be saved.
I have a responsibility. It is required in a steward that he is found faithful. I’m not doing pastoral ministry for the pay, for the prestige, the power, the authority, none of that. I’m doing this because I can’t do anything else.
I hurt for the church. I think the church is in rough shape today. We face a legit enemy and the church is filled with wolves in sheep’s clothing. False doctrine and false teachers abound, not just in pulpits, but in the pews.
Our enemy knows what he’s doing. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. This is not a time to pick fights with people.
The Bible never says Christianity will be easy, and it certainly never said being a pastor was easy. Paul didn’t use “fight the fight” because pastoral ministry is a vacation.
I’m not an organizer of movements. I’m not even a good cheerleader. I am a loser who is accustomed to losing and being ignored.
The mega-church pastors get the attention and the conference gigs. That’s fine, they can have them. But they really have no clue what the average pastor is up against.
They are busy and important. They can go to sleep at night knowing they have thousands of people paying attention to them and a full schedule to distract them in the morning.
That’s fine, I do not envy their position. I am not emotionally equipped to deal with the responsibility of caring for thousands of souls.
The problems I have are of a completely different nature. I have the care of about 37 souls and it keeps me up at night. I am sorrowful, I have pain knowing people are rejecting the Word and are headed toward eternal torment. Meanwhile they are having fun and putting on a happy face.
My heart aches for the church. Not to sound overly Messianic, but zeal for His house has eaten me up.
I have no pithy advice, no magic solution, no author or conference that will heal the pain and give life. All I have is the Word of God. If you don’t get life from His words, what on earth can I say?
Please, pastors, read the Word. Preach the Word in season and out. While people walked out of my church in painful season after painful season, I read the Bible over and over. I’ve read it over 40 times cover to cover. I’ve preached thru the Bible. I don’t entertain; I help people know how to read, understand, and use the Bible.
I beg you please, if you are a pastor, emphasize the Word. Do not stop. If you’re gonna suffer and be frustrated, you might as well do it for the right reason! I’d hate for you to go through this suffering and then stand before the Lord and hear that you weren’t doing the essential aspect of your job to begin with.
Preach and teach the Word. This is your job. Do this. The church needs this, even if most of them leave because you’re doing it. Preach those passages you know your church doesn’t like. Preach the actual scriptural passages, not just what your favorite theologian said about them. Do the work to understand it yourself.
You’ve got to have spiritual life yourself. You have to feel what you teach. It has to be your faith, your struggle, your growth, your walk with the Savior. It has to be true for you. Please have it be real for you.
Being a pastor is not just a nice way to make a living. It requires spiritual maturity. Spiritual life has to be from your heart. The church has too many hypocrites, people playing a game. Show something real. God’s Word must dwell in you. Christ must be alive in you.
Get the Word in you and then preach the Word.
I leave you with the words of Paul to Timothy:
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
–1 Timothy 4:12-16