Sometimes we pastors are busy leading, proclaiming, encouraging; and then, from time to time, we are gripped with our own humanity. But our people don’t get a chance to see what’s really going on in our hearts. That is one reason I started Glass Pulpit. I wanted people to see what pastors really think about and even struggle with, when they’re not in front of a crowd.
I’m not trying to “out” any pastors. These are things many would share if they felt they could. How do I know? First, I’m a pastor and these are the musings of my heart. And second, I’ve been hanging around these faithful servants for the last 25 years. Guess what we talk about? Here you go…
He isn’t satisfied with his own prayer life. I don’t know of a pastor who feels like he has prayer nailed. It is a struggle. Probably because most of us are wired to lead. And leaders, by nature, are pretty self-reliant. And, just like with anyone in the congregation, life and ministry crowds out quiet reflection and listening to God. And even if a pastor spends hours in prayer, even he feels like there is more that could be gained, or experienced in prayer.
He really does feel responsible for your spiritual growth. Some pastors seem a little driven and overbearing. That may have to do with their personalities. But sometimes it’s because he feels responsible for you. Pastors see people come in, listen and leave. And we see congregants suffer the same struggles year after year. We know that we too, have those kinds of patterns. And so, we do understand. But we often feel responsible. Deep down, we think, there must be something I’m not communicating, or there must be some way I’m not leading, or people would grow in new ways. I know, “this is our problem.” God doesn’t lay all of that on us as pastors. But it doesn’t change the nagging tug in our hearts to want to be able to do something to make it better for you.
He struggles with keeping his life in balance too. We talk about having to set priorities and balance our lives, but guess what??? We’re right with you. Most of us are not great at it. We care about what we do. And it is hard to put away the urgent for the important. We forget to pray. We forget to make time with our families. We forget to talk to our wives. We forget to take a day off. We forget to witness to our neighbors. And in the end, we question whether or not we spent our time doing what God really wanted.
He is afraid that ministry is going to take too large a toll on his family. We’ve seen pastor’s families fall apart again and again. We’ve seen pastor’s kids walk away from the Lord and we’ve seen pastor’s wives grow in resentment toward the church and ministry. And we pray it never happens to us. Sometimes it does. But we hope it won’t last long, if it does. We believe that God called us to ministry and we struggle with concerns about how our kids will take that. We want our families to love the church the way we do. But we know God has to do that. So, we encourage, pray, hope and work to teach our families what life and ministry are about. But we just don’t want them to pay too high a price for our convictions.
He wonders if he’s making a real impact. No one wants to get to the end of their life and stand before the Lord and here Him say, “nope, that wasn’t it.” Some things make us feel better. When the budget is met and people fill the chairs it feels good. But none of us think that’s enough. We know God is in the game of life-transformation. And that is what we hope to see. We want to see people surrender their lives to a loving Savior. We want to see people experiencing the abundant life we believe in. We want to see people sharing that life with others. And we want that because we believe with every fiber of our being that this is what God wants too.
So, the next time you see your pastor, just know that these are some of the things that rattle around in his brain at all hours of the day and night. Pray for him because he may be having a tough time praying. Let him know how you’re growing, that is what he longs to see. Encourage him to put down some urgent demand, or take it from him, so he can do something more important. Let his family know that you love them too. And pray and work alongside your pastor to make an impact together. So we can all stand before Jesus and here Him say, “That was it! Good job!”