Be A Pastor – Yeah, No Thanks Buddy, Or It’s Really No Wonder Why They Move So Much

Yesterday I polished off some thoughts about how everyone wants to be leader, the person on stage, the one who looks like they have authority. This one may sound contradictory, but its about why being a pastor is the most unappealing career in the world for some people.

Being a pastor is no dream job for me. The way churches run these days don’t exactly stack up perks to such a demanding job. About the only appealing aspect to the job is getting paid to go out for coffee five times a day (or at least it seems that’s how often they are leaving the office in an 8 hours stretch), and even then the downfalls arise like the caffeine jitters, which I’m heavily prone to.

A few of my reasons include…

  • having to prepare and deliver engaging, fresh lectures every single week that fill 45 minutes of time,
    • and also fighting off despair at the sight of dozing listeners,
  • constantly having your weekends stolen by weddings (unless you’re in your mid-twenties then weddings are stealing your weekends regardless of your profession),
  • the pressure of never being permitted to have one single character flaw,
  • never being able to go out for a pint without first checking over your shoulder to scan the room first,
  • an endless stream of conferences, meetings and committees,
  • having to beg for money in front of a group of people every three months,
    • and also having to weave together the biggest guilt trip each time (that tops the last guilt trip the previous quarter),
  • the expectation of an amazing and effortless prayer life in spite of a whirlwind schedule,
  • the heap of shame I’d lunge on a person anytime I’d slip on their name,
  • being evaluated for every dime I spent and being judged the two times a year I buy one new piece of clothing,

Ultimately I think the biggest downfall of being a pastor is that every single thing you do or say is critiqued. You say one thing that someone thinks is apart from orthodoxy (even though there isn’t one universally accepted Christian version of orthodoxy at all) you’re toast. Newsletters and e-mails and angry phone calls spread like summer wildfires and people loose their grace like it was a snake around their neck.

I had started this post well over a month ago, and since then I was turned onto a study released that pastors are more highly prone to obesity and depression, as well as burn out, poverty, divorce and plenty of other wretched things.

The study only solidified that being a pastor sounds terrible. And I think the problem is ourselves – Christians – because we are the ones making it such hell for them. Last week I also wrote briefly about the Rick Warren Twitter scandal, where Pastor Rick wrote something (in 140 letters) that a whole lot of people didn’t like, so therefore they jumped on him like he had just stolen a purse from a little old lady.

So my suggestion is let’s loosen up a little bit and not get into so many boxing matches with each other. There are a lot of fish in the sea, and we’ve got bigger fish to fry.

(Confession: I just wanted to use those totally unrelated expressions together. But it does make sense I think!)

The point of it all – and maybe I’ll have to make this every few weeks – lets dismount from our high horses and rally around love.

Have you ever wanted to be a pastor? Would you agree for the reason(s) I listed that it is a totally unappealing job? How can we change that? Is the job so hard because of the work load and the difficulty of the gospel, or because Christians are outright mean to one another?

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4 Responses to Be A Pastor – Yeah, No Thanks Buddy, Or It’s Really No Wonder Why They Move So Much

  1. Angela says:

    This is an interesting post, Charlie. My roommate works in ministry and she used some of that money to buy a new laptop, which is totally expected/acceptable because these donations are her salary. It really makes you think about how nice of stuff you want to buy and how others might judge you based on that. She actually ended up getting a macbook, but you know what? It’s a really good laptop and even though it cost more, it will probably last longer anyway.

  2. David says:

    Pastoring is the problem for the church. Sure, every church has to have a pastor. The problem with dogmatic Christianity is that is the only job in the whole freakin’ church. We have made the pulpit and icon for church, and in doing so, we have pushed aside a lot of other ministry opportunities.

    Our corporate CEO type pastors are the “do it all” types. It’s a fallacy. Matthew 18:12 is very clear what the biblical pastoral role is. Keep in mind that “sheep” in the Bible are those of faith, not goats “without faith.”

    Ephesians 4:11 is very clear, the leadership is to contain 5 functioning roles in the church, and because we are a body, it is never ONE person. When we only have one person for many roles it is impossible not to “burn out.”

    Here is the first in a series of 7 blogs that I have written to address this problem in the church.

    In regards to pastors needing to being super spiritual, that happens because of the pulpit mentality of the spectators in the manicured American church. If our leadership was more diverse, and the goal was to reach, teach and release; with a double portion, then average Christian would have their own ministry to be accountable for.

    When it comes to spending money, if the church actually tithed, the pastor would have more blessing than he could know what to do with. In fact, it is not biblical to have a salary. But we are so into buildings and computer graphics that the pastor gets short changed in the name of sacrifice.

    I don’t want t be a pastor (sheep bite), I want to be an apostle or a prophet.

  3. "Dozing Listener" says:

    Hi Charlie,
    While I would never propose that all “dozers” have sleep disorders……I would like to say that some, in fact, do. I am in that number, having been diagnosed with narcolepsy years ago. There are, in fact, many other sleep disorders, so there’s more than a few “dozers” out there in the world. I can be totally awake and listening, and then without even realizing it, my head drops down and I’m either one of two things. Totally out of it – in an instant not being conscious at all. Or, I’m actually still hearing every single word, even though I sure don’t look like, Weird, I know. And I can tell you that it’s VERY embarrassing. And Christians can be quite brutal to someone like me. And have been. And you go home and cry…..because no way did you want to seem rude, especially at church. Once, when Dr Charles Stanley was speaking at my church, I sat close, hoping maybe that would help me stay awake. Well… didn’t work. All of a sudden, Dr Stanley POUNDED the podium and screamed out, “SOME OF YOU ARE FALLING ASLEEP!!!!!” I came to, heart about to pound out of my body, to find he was staring directly at me! HOW VERY, VERY, VERY HUMILIATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have to be careful about waking up someone in a narcoleptic stupor – if done too suddenly, it absolutely sends our hearts into overdrive. Almost scary. So, please…..when you comment on “dozers” or see them in your congregation…..please… kind. There’s some of us who just can’t help it.
    Thanks for hearing me out.
    Looking forward to a new body in heaven

  4. @Angela – I can attest now that Macs are superior. I’ve had too many failed Windows laptops I had to make the switch. Yeah all that scrutiny and judgment from the people you’re trying to teach love to would be a little more than I can take. It’d make me a bitter man.

    @David – man so many problems! I can understand why people don’t tithe – I don’t care about church buildings, good coffee & multimedia, I’d much rather than money went elsewhere. Pastors do have a lot stacked upon them, the crazy thing is some want it because it helps them feel more heroic and spiritual.

    @Dozing Listener – as I’ll probably write about extensively here, I’m not a fan of sermon-based church services, and in light of your narcolepsy maybe you’d work better in a more interactive church experience? Though I do understand its not under your control. The Dr. Stanley story is funny because he assumes that his message is so important that if someone falls asleep it is their problem, possibly not his own (just another reason I don’t prefer sermons).

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