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Pastors are Not Ministry Mutants

September 14, 2016

In my early days in ministry, I thought of the Apostle Paul as a Ministry Mutant. He was wholly different than regular people and was Holy Ghost hardwired for the rigors of ministry. This was absurd. By making Paul “nothing like me” I conveniently excused myself from being “anything like Paul.” As long as Paul was a freak of nature, there was nothing required of me!

Over time, I came to understand that many people see pastors like I used to see Paul. Ministry Mutants. This is equally absurd.

Here are seven things about pastors you may find surprising:

1. Pastors have feelings

It is always open season on pastors. Hurtful things said often get back and it does damage. Over time, it does a lot of damage.

2. Pastors get discouraged

I believe pastors need nineteen pieces of encouragement for every piece of harsh criticism they receive. I know many good and gifted pastors who simply quit ministry because they were discouraged.

3. Pastors actually operate out of a sense of call

Pastors care deeply and struggle to balance their personal lives with the demands of their congregations. I don’t know any pastors who see ministry as a “job.” None.

4. It’s always personal to pastors

When people quit a church it hurts. When criticism comes from unexpected places, it hurts. You can tell a pastor “It’s not personal” all you want. It is personal. Ministry is not just what we do, it is our lives.

5. Pastor’s spouses suffer all the stress of ministry and none of the rewards

Being married to a pastor is a tough gig. Period.

6. Pastoral ministry is hard on marriages and families

The pastoral divorce rate is too high. Too many PK’s go prodigal. Pastors see the good and the bad; pastor’s families normally just see the bad. Pastors “accept the call.” Pastor’s families pay for it.

7. Pastors don’t have pastors

Who do pastors talk to when they are hurting? It is an excellent question. The normal answer is no one and pastors are often lonely and isolated.

So here is the deal. Being a pastor is hard. Uniquely hard. Hard on pastors. Hard on marriages. Hard on families. There are many sacrifices that go with the territory and we get that. But we are still human beings. We need family, friends, love, understanding, forgiveness, encouragement and support.

Here are three simple things you can do today:

1. Send your pastor a note of encouragement
2. Pray for your pastor’s family regularly
3. Engage fully and without complaint in the ministry of your church

Pastors are not Ministry Mutants. It would be so much easier if we were…

 

Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.

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