Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What it's like to be a pastor

The obamitical music video we were discussing over at Pyro gives birth to some thoughts about pastoral ministry. I want to put it up now, before I "get" a church to serve, so that no one mistakenly infers that I'm sniping at it (or any particular fellowship).

If you're a pastor —
  1. You start every day knowing that almost everybody thinks you're doing it all wrong!
  2. You start every day knowing that most people don't really understand what your job is, that most people suspect (r outright state) that you're a lazy, hypocritical, self-centered, self-indulgent blowhard.
  3. You know that, the less actual education and actual experience your critics have regarding pastoral ministry, the more certain and immovable their judgment of the way you do it will be.
  4. You know that, unlike any other field of specialty, the less-qualified a critic is, the more respect his opinions will be granted.
Anybody would be justified in thinking that I think these facts should inspire self-pity, bitterness, and resentment. I don't. I think anyone who wants to become a pastor should simply have his eyes open to these realities. He has to be okay with knowing that, in the final analysis, only God can finally assess his ministry. He has to be okay with deferring the whole to God's judgment (as I discussed at some length, starting here.)

If he can't do that, he really, really should find other ways to spend his sojourn here.

So no, I'm not saying these things to elicit pity (or incite self-pity). If it helps people understand their pastors better, empathize better — excellent.

But for the pastor himself? It's just what you have to know. You just have to accept that it's this way, keep your eyes on Christ, stay close to the Cross, and deal.


Daryl said...

As a non-pastor may I say, that while your post is pointedly and particularly referring to pastors, I think it find application to all other believers as well.

We just have the advantage of not living in a fishbowl.

DJP said...

You know, actually, Daryl, that's a very good point. Every non-Christian in the world is a greater authority on being a Christian than an actual Christian is. And every non-Christian in the world knows for a fact that every Christian is doing it totally, completely wrong.

The less he actually knows about being a Christian, the surer he is that he's right.

Good point!

Gilbert said...

As a meteorologist, I thought the 4 points were about our profession. I was waiting for the rant about how I somehow rained out your (picnic, wedding day, merciless beating, etc). :-)

But seriously: Is it REALLY as bad as you describe? Really?

Jay said...

As a future teacher from a family of teachers, I also thought the four points were about our profession. Of course, the added element in public education is that our bosses, not just our critics, often have no experience teaching a class. :)

JackW said...

Being a bondservant is so hard, no wonder Paul complained about it all the time. ;{)

Barbara said...

Come to think of it, as a nurse that all very well applies to my line of work too. Boy, does it ever.

I think it's fair to say that such facts apply to any position of service in an "entitled" society.

As a sidebar, the word verification is "motor". Interesting.

The Doulos said...

I'm not a pastor, nor do I play one on TV. But I do have the occasion to preach now and then. Once, after preaching two services in our church, I was relating to a fellow church member how tired I was after preaching. I told her how much respect I had for our preaching pastor who puts in that kind of energy week after week. Her response was: "Well yeah, but you have a real job, he doesn't."

Mx5 said...

I wish everyone knew this before taking on that pastorate ;-) Perhaps this should be taught in seminary?