Seven-of-the-Greatest-Stressors-on-Pastors

Most pastors love their calling. Most pastors could not imagine doing anything else. Most pastors have joy in their ministries. I want to be clear that I don’t view pastors as a depressed, melancholy, and forlorn lot.  Most pastors would not come close to fitting that description.

But every pastor has points of stress. Indeed everyone has points of stress, including leaders of churches, organizations, and families. Pastors are not immune from stressors in life and ministry.

I hear from pastors almost every day. Indeed, I can’t remember a day since the advent of social media that I have not heard from a pastor. Some of these ministers gladly share their struggles with me. I am grateful. That means that these pastors trust me and view me as one who cares for them. They are right.

And though I did not do a formal tabulation of all the pieces of correspondence from pastors, I can share with you, with some level of confidence, seven of the greatest stressors on pastors. Indeed, I share them in the order of frequency I have heard them.

  1. Giving their families deserved time. In reality, no pastor has a day off. It is a 24/7 call where the next phone call or email means a dramatic change in their priorities. Deaths, accidents, and emergencies know no clock or holidays or vacation. Pastors are often required to leave their families to meet those needs. And pastors worry about their families and their needs.
  2. An unhappy spouse. No one can serve in a church or do any job with joy if their spouse is unhappy. The pastor is certainly not exempt from that stressor. Some of the unhappiness of pastors’ spouses is related to the first stressor noted. Some of it is related to the next stressor on the list. And still other times, spouses are expected to fill roles in the church because of who they married, not because they are equipped or desirous to do so.
  3. The glass house. One pastor wrote me that he struggles greatly because several church members have clear expectations about what clothes his wife and children wear, how the kids behave, and even what school they should attend. Other pastors have less severe cases of the glass house, but any level of this syndrome is uncomfortable.
  4. Lacking competencies in key areas. The ideal pastor is a great leader, psychologist, counselor, financial manager, orator, teacher, conflict manager, human resources professional, and strategist. No pastor is great in every area. Many pastors feel stress because they know more is expected of them in areas where they are not very strong.
  5. Personal financial needs. Many pastors feel financial stress because they do not make sufficient income to meet their families’ needs. The pastor who worries about paying the bills is the pastor who cannot focus on the ministry and the people of the church.
  6. Responding to criticisms. All leaders are and will be criticized. Pastors are no exception. The challenge that pastors and other leaders have is how to respond appropriately to criticism. Some critics should be heard. Some should be heeded. Others need to be ignored. It is often difficult to know which approach to take.
  7. Lack of a confidant. Pastors need a pastor. Pastors need someone who can be their confidant. Pastors need someone who will not judge them when they let off steam or complain about unhealthy situations and people. Very few pastors have such a friend or confidant. All of them need one.

Everyone has stressors. Everyone has problems of some magnitude. The pastor is no exception. And during holiday seasons, stress is often magnified and multiplied. Consider this Christmas season praying a bit more for your pastor. Consider taking time to say a kind word or write an encouraging note to your pastor. Or consider doing something for your pastor’s family.

Stress will not go away. But maybe those of us who truly love and care for our pastors can do something this season to help make the stress less of a burden for these who have been called by God.

It may be the best Christmas gift you give this season.

Comments

  1. Suzy Womelsdorff says

    I am a lay teacher and ardent researcher. I left a large church that weekly struggled with paying the bills of the large facility built at the height of the real estate market. The message is the same. Bring a friend. Fill a seat. God has something just ahead for your breakthrough. While all that may be true there isn’t any in depth teaching. Nothing expository for fear that those who are paying the bills will be offended.
    All grace and love and peace, (absence of conflict).
    Little if any judgment, obedience and peace, the peace that comes from obedience.
    And the called are exhausted and frustrated at staying and hoping that the facilities will be better used. They can’t be open every evening to allow those who want to learn and those who will teach because they can’t pay for the utilities that would be used.
    That’s what the large facility means to me.
    Smaller, even if it means totally maximizing the twenty four hours given in each day. If you are that large, there are many shift workers looking for answers.
    Yeshua taught on the hillsides and the porches of the temple. Maximizing the time and space. And if it was good enough for Him….,

    • Matt Dixon says

      Suzy,
      You are correct in most of your observations with one major underlying misunderstanding regarding preaching and teaching to Americans. The majority of modern Americans would not have gone out to see Jesus preach-teach in the outdoors because it would be too hot, cold, no refreshments, no ‘rock-bank’ style worship, light show, coffee shop, no 2″ thick padded chairs with ‘elbow space’ so the person next to me want touch my arm and so on.
      Therefore, since pastors want people to attend, the church building must meet the ‘needs’ of the church people, which is some level of luxury. Therein lies the conundrum.
      Your observations on the ‘watered down’ gospel message, a type of motivational seminar, is spot on. Thanks for that. There are those of us out there preaching the full counsel of the Word of God in less than ideal conditions. Blessings, Pastor Matt

      • Mark Nowakowski says

        Such disconnect is disheartening at best. One does not administer hope and healing to a broken world by smacking another between the eyes. Sometimes to open eyes and minds one has to open the heart first. What appears “watered down” to us as clergy is uppity-up mumbo-jumbo to a faith deficient world created by us. Christ May have taught on the hillside but he spoke to the people in parables…simple stories…illustrations that they could understand. He also was among the people…not set apart in pulpits, in robes, and in stature. While the judgement seat was his, he never used it. Love….the missin element. Prayers for your finding.

    • audree warmack says

      Suzy, love the heartfelt comment….I am feeling it! Just like to add that I approach a Pastor who has a large building and almost no congregation, on using the building for a Christian School. Comment was they didn’t want the Church dirty!! I would hate to stand before God on that one! Kids don’t tithe, but the same Pastors had mentioned to me that 20&30 year olds were flaky and didn’t attend regularly or tithe. I stated that perhaps if you had a school and had kids 8 hours a day instead of 2 hours a week they would probably not be so flaky. I think a lot of times we Christians are Stupid…I think it is insanity to send kids off to as secular environment 8 hours a day 5 days a week and expect them to turn out ok. I know that if we had them 8 hours a day 5 days a week just think what we could do ….as far as character, building the kingdom, changing the world!!! When will we realize that we are giving away our greatest gifts……If I dare say the Bible is clear that God will hold us accountable for the younger generation…He tells us to train them (whether they are our personal kids or not does not matter we are still held responsible for the training ….not our public school teachers!!! Too say the least I am passionate about this. I have purchased 100 acres of land and intend with Gods help and supply to at least reach the kids in my area and provide a haven in this incredibly mixed up world …where they can be trained and grow in the grace and admonition of the Lord. I think God is also smarter even on a purely business level …For get about the comfort and reach the Children and you will get the Parents ….Who is with me!! Looking now for metal Building and laborers. Already have 4h program, agriculture Program, Art, Music , Physical ED., etc Will be a exemplary school!!

  2. says

    I am sure these are all very common. My biggest stressor is knowing how to respond when people promise to do something, fail to and leave me holding a ball that if dropped hurts a lot of people.

      • says

        Brother Thom we met a few years back at CEO Fellowship at which time I shared what God showed me about the role of LifeWay going into the future. Your stores have become the only place to find resources from God’s heart. Pastors need to step back as Messengers and let the Message of Christ take preeminence.

          • Oscar Smith says

            Stan we become more of a reflection of Christ when we decrease and let go and let God lead. Leaders are Readers. Leadership is caught over a lifetime of experiences.God bless you Brother Smith!

    • says

      This is lesson that I learned. People must first be given the opportunity to earn or demostrate competiency prior to trust. Especially when others feeling, hopes and dreams are at stake. Thus, no position should be filled simply because there is an opening or a need. Only fill each position as the Lord leads…Do not place too much confidence in you’re thinking…. Because we tend to judge distorted. Persons sent by God can disappoint too, but God got it, that not on you, like Moses give it back to God. Realize like King David you have not proven them or put them to the test yet. Therefore unless God leads you only give them enough at a time to be proven. The Criminals do this….Because the y don’t want to get whacked. Pastor’s use this wisdom from above to prevent having to hold the ball themselves abad or placing people in harms or disappoints way! In my life observation, this is understanding.

  3. Allen Calkins says

    One that could be added, kind of related to the glass house but not exactly, is the perfectionistic expectations of many congregations. Churches like sermons on God’s grace. But many if not most lack grace for those in leadership. A pastor who makes a public mistake, even a fairly small one, runs the risk of losing the respect of some in the church and perhaps even his job! It is HARD to stand on a pedestal without falling off. I try my best to stay off the pedestal by sharing some struggles and trying to be authentic and real. But church members still want to put me up there, from where all I can do is fall off and disappoint them…

    • Charles K. Gibbs says

      I’ve discovered after nearly 37 years of pastoring three different churches that my number one stressor is self-imposed expectations. Someone tell me how to handle them.

      • D says

        I’ve learned the hard but fun way. Walk away from the church for a day or two. Give up your expectations. Do a few things to honor yourself. Realise that the church did not fall apart while you were away and rejoice in your freedom! Then lower your expectations understanding that various demands take more energy and time and because of that you are entitled to breathe, heal and enjoy life in the quiet moments.

        • Mathews says

          Hmm not sure about honoring yourself. Do all things to the glory of God. However, we are a missionary family an we recognize that when God rested on the seventh day it wasn’t because He needed rest, but knew that we would. He also knows that it is hard to step away from something ou put effort into, and so he gave us ‘permission’ from the very beginning when he rested. If our families fall apart what is that saying to the world? We must nurture our families to be the most effective in the ministry.

          • M. Mack says

            Mathews,
            Pastor’s need rest! I agree!
            As mother of five, wife of Senior Pastor, among a more fearless and faithless Christian and Secular Society alike, I’ve come to realize that that my biggest battle is no longer or should I say has never been at the Church House, Prayer House, Sanctuary, The Place, Higher Higher, Greater Greater,…..of God, but with the plucking out of seeds of corruption, the imaginable and deliberate wicked attacks of corruptions to the family- some of which are being enhanced or catalyst unknowingly by the undiscerning landing of words from the voices in pulpit authorities, or from people of influence in the congregations, or people in general; or furthermore, planted by those who are jealous of the little power of light in our lives, or planted by those who don’t understand the spectrum of God and where the Christian family stand as a family unit in the representation of His divine presence in the world! In retrospect….What will happen if the Pastor takes a risk of rest, to see about his family?…his wantabe family that he’s given spiritual birth to will reek havoc!….and of those wantabe’s who are not in Christ will become violent because of the misplaced lost they will experience in their finances ,psychic, or would be spiritual lives, or physically mispositioned -and I say again mispositioned (s)hepherd! I believe America’s congregations has mispositioned their Pastor’s thus trapping him in a now deadly (deadly-too much to handle mentally) circle. Sadly, one of which I think was created by the disobedience of Pastor’s and congregations themselves…..the pulpit is not to be a shared glory of God, but a place that put God as the One and only Glory! If men would only preach Jesus Christ, death, burial, and resurrection, give a call to the alter on Sunday mornings, and do Luke 18:1 we can be healed.
            Let the schools be schools, let malls be malls, let the ungodly have multiple wives, let communities have drives, let the fundraisers raise funds…performers perform….let the dead bury….etc……but let us walk circumspectly, visit, pray, some – apt to teach, preach in and out, walk the true faith……so that God’s glory will shine and do the work only It can do!……Pastors- come home and talk to your family, not dictate, order, or hold a business meeting……………. but love your single home family – a vow you made regardless of personal desires and disappointments, regardless of the offers given in or out of the world. Your world’s kingdom begins at home and if you can’t or won’t or don’t desire your world’s kingdom you cannot lead God’s. In all thy getting, get an understanding. Know the differences of the worlds or kingdoms, separate them, and live as much as possible in peace……and that peace comes by keeping our minds on Jesus!

            Pray for me.

            M.Mack
            MOTAP

      • Brett says

        I have copied an excerpt from a missionary colleague which gives some good insight I believe.
        Blessings to you…
        Strange as it seems, I have learned the hard way not to have expectations for the young people here. However I will have Hope for them and I will never, never let go of Hope. My Hope and their Hope is in God. So you may ask what the difference is. Before I started this work here I didn’t think there was a difference. Hope can be defined as: The theological virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God’s help. Expectation can be defined as: eager anticipation, or prospects, especially of success or gain.
        Hope is spiritual, expectation temporal. Expectation says, when you input this information, that information will be the output, or when you do this, you can expect this or that to happen. Expectation relies on the results of an action for its validation, and expectation can’t handle constantly being unmet. And then… well then there is hope. Hope says, no matter what, I will continue, no matter the unmet expectations I have a spiritual purpose, in the face of extreme discouragement I will continue to live on. Hope is in Christ, in His glory, in His arms and in His purposes. And love, well love always hopes. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says:”love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I am here because of Hope, not expectation. Hope relies on God for the outcome and expectation relies on some earthly recompense. In fact I can’t afford to have expectations. It hurts way too much to constantly have them unmet, but oh I can have hope, because it means the outcome does not rely on me alone. A situation can look utterly ‘hope-less’, because of unmet expectations and that is why it has to be flooded with the Hope of God.

        • Christian Ricker says

          Brett,
          Thanks for that post by the missionary. I think it’s easy to get into a mindset where I “expect” that certain things should happen when I “do” certain other things. This totally fails to appreciate that I am not in charge, that my methods are not the Holy Spirit’s power, and that true ministry is often butterflies’ wings fluttering now and a wind blowing 20 years from now 400 miles away. But that’s sooooooo hard to live in daily in a culture that is obsessed with what new technique or manipulation can be maneuvered to manufacture results instantly. Thanks for those thoughts! Always good to be reminded that I am but a poor watering can and only God gives the growth! Peace and Love in our Savior!

      • Pastor Lisa says

        Self can always be a problem (smile)
        Go back to the basics. What does God desire (expect) from you in this season. You can’t do EVERYTHING so what is most valuable to Him for you RIGHT NOW? I notice that Pastors that have been working over many years get lost in the day to day shuffle of ministry. Our jobs to redevelop a dependency on Holy Spirt to lead and guide us often becomes a sidebar. Often with our busy hectic lives we stop depending on Him to be your leader….and tell other’s that He is, making no moves with out that conformation…….HE is our BOSS. EXCEPT WHAT HE IS SAYING FOR THE NOW OF YOUR LIFE, even if it is not what you would chose or expected…..He knows what’s best! Rest in Him and Watch the pressure come off.

  4. Tony says

    These are definitely the stressors. I find it amazing that churches claim to be pro-family but require pastor’s wives to provide the income and health insurance for the pastor’s family.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Tony -

      I’ve done posts on pastors’ spouses. I, like you, have been astounded at the expectations of them as noted in hundreds of comments.

  5. Chris Russell says

    The family is definitely a big one. I also think this is one that is a key to long term successful leadership within the church. If the family hurts then the pastor hurts, if the pastor hurts the church hurts. I am so blessed to have a board that is protective of my family time and making sure I take the time to be with them.

  6. David Cozart says

    If the use of the word pastor includes all called servant leaders on a church staff then I wholeheartedly agree that many fall prey to these stressors. We greatly appreciate you addressing them.

    If use of the word pastor is only for the Senior Pastor, then on behalf of friends and fellow leaders, I respectfully submit that most staff pastors or “second chair leaders” also experience these same stressors. Perhaps not always to the same degree, yet Youth pastors, Children’s pastors, Discipleship pastors and all the variations of titles and functions are not immune from these same stressors. That may be for a different blog entry.

    Another article topic might be how the entire ministry team feels stress at times and through church life cycles.

    Yet another group that experience a different type of stress are support staff members who often get overlooked. They too are part of the team and often have great knowledge when it comes to execution of a plan. Add to that in many churches across the country is the “church secretary” who is supposed to know all, be all, keep the staff “in line”, know yet church calendar by memory and answer every question members ask even while he or she is trying to worship or attend Sunday School.

  7. Joy says

    This is an excellent article! Thanks so much! The only ‘problem’ is that more pastors than lay people read these??? :)

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thank you Joy. Don’t worry. This blog has about 3 million annual views and, according to my informal tallies, about two-thirds of the views are laity.

  8. Royal Farris says

    I had a lady leave our church and she said it was because I did not teach enough of the Bible.

    That same week a lady came to our church she said because I taught the Bible more than her previous pastor. Her previous pastor was the one referenced above.

    Many times the conflict a pastor has with church members is a heart issue of the church member. The blame has to go somewhere.

    I think that maybe the biggest stressor. Hurting people hurt people. And many times the people you have put the most energy into are the ones that make you the bad guy.

    I am better at understanding that there are way more blessings than stressors. I can not imagine doing anything other than being a pastor. The rewards far out number the stressors.

    We just have to remember tha,t when we are knocked back by the swing of a hurting person.

    • says

      “Many times the conflict a pastor has with church members is a heart issue of the church member. The blame has to go somewhere.” Not sure you can always put the blame on the church member. Couldn’t the problem be a heart issue with the Pastor?

    • Margaret Siemer says

      Royal, thank you for hitting the nail on the head. We are all a work in progress, but pastors tend to be the lightening rod for folks who are projecting their hurts. Even the comments to this article reflect that. Thank you for your ministry and may God bless you and yours abundantly.

  9. says

    Thanks for isolating these stressors. One more might relate to comparisons. I pastor a small rural church. The talent level available musically is, let’s just say, minimal. Splashed across Facebook, twitter, and the leadership magazines are pictures and stories of amazingly well produced extrvavagazas – particularly at Christmas and Easter. My worship team loves to sing, but let’s just say not even I always like to hear them!

    • Preacher Wife says

      Steve,
      Your comment could really hurt feelings if someone from your worship team were to read it. Just a thought…

      • Another Preacher Wife says

        I was thinking about the exact same thing. Steve, a lot of people from your church will google your name once in a while for a kick to see what comes up, and you will be hurting many people’s feelings. If someone cares, can they please delete Steve’s comments? He needs to understand that a simple search for his name will bring this very private comment up. Please, do it for all the pastors who’ve made simple mistakes that caused a giant stir.

  10. Joe S WEsley says

    I would agree with you as far as the majority of pastors are concerned. However, we need to hear about the pastor who is just to lazy to do his job. We have pastors that think the congregation should not expect more than one or two sermons a week, Any visitation should be done by the Deacons or other members.
    STRESS? The reason they are stressed is that they are pampered by some of the members that they get stressed if they are asked to preach two times on Sunday.

    • Paul R. Jones says

      Joe;
      I would say that the pastor you are referring to is a hireling. One who is in the game for the money, great pay, and all the time off he wants to have. Probably plays golf once a week with his buddies and then turns in the receipts to the IRS as “Pastor Retreats”. He no doubt has most of his money tax sheltered in the parsonage category for the IRS as well.
      The only thing I can advise here is if that pastor does exist in your life, then perhaps you would be kind enough to confront him in private.

    • John Sears says

      I would ssy this is the exception and not the norm. It has been my experience that when a member tells me someone is sick, they have heard it secondhand and do not intend to visit them themselves. They tell me so that they can “pretend to care” and fulfill their obligation. The pastor lives out their faith by actually visiting and praying.

    • John Sears says

      I would say this is the exception and not the norm. It has been my experience that when a member tells me someone is sick, they have heard it secondhand and do not intend to visit them themselves. They tell me so that they can “pretend to care” and fulfill their obligation. The pastor lives out their faith by actually visiting and praying.

    • Joe S Wesley says

      I did not write the reply that is under my name. I don’t know who did it, but I would never post anything like this about any person, especially a Preacher.

    • Joe Wesley says

      Bro. Rainer, I am writing this because someone posted the above comment under the name of Joe S WEsley. It was not me. I am a Deacon in a Southern Baptist Church and this comment has been printed and shown to most of the members. You can imagine the problems this is causing. My reason for writing is to ask you if you could give me the e-mail address of the person who done the posting. I would like to ask why they are doing this. I will appreciate any help you can give me.

      • Thom Rainer says

        Joe – I don’t have access to the information at home. I will take care of that for you tomorrow. I am sorry for the pain it caused you.

  11. says

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with all 7 of these. I’ve only been serving as a pastor for around 2 years and I’ve felt all 7 of them at various times.

  12. says

    Dr. Rainer, during many coaching conversations with leaders I always ask, how is the balance in your life and how do you go about recharging the four batteries of life balance.
    How are you doing recharging your spiritual life? How’s your walk with Christ, who do you have asking the hard questions about your walk?
    How are you recharging your mental and intellectual battery? What are you currently reading and exploring?
    How are you recharging you physical battery? What’s your diet, are you getting enough rest?
    Most leaders respond they are okay with the first three. It’s the fourth battery that has lost its charge. How are you recharging your emotional battery? What do you do to relax and have fun? How is your family involved in in your emotional health?
    What I have learned is that most leaders behave themselves into their own problems?
    Heard a long time ago, Leaders live in glass houses and people throw rocks, those closest to the house throw the most rocks.

  13. says

    For me the most important thing you stated was a reminder that EVERYONE has stressors! In no certain order:
    1. I need to be humble enough to deal with my negative contribution. I may have helped create the negative situation.
    2. I need make sure my response to others is Christ-like. What others do, say, or think about me will not destroy me– but my wrong response will! The negative and wrong others may do, say, or think about me is like a CLEAN WOUND– with proper care, it will heal. However, my wrong responses bring DEEP infection and destroy. (1 Peter 2:20-24)
    3. MUCH pastoral and church stress is due to a rejection of the Biblical model of the CHURCH AS A FUNCTION BODY: Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12! No one man (Pastor) or a small group of men (Elders and Deacons) can do all the needed work of ministry.
    4. After 6 years at one church and now almost 39 years at the second church– I have had at least a little experience with stress; and I am sure that there is a danger of too much focus on licking our wounds. I’ve been guilty. But somewhere along the way, I made a SERIOUS MISTAKE that destroyed my ‘Pity Parties!”– I read the epistles of the Apostle Paul! None of our stress factors can match his! BUT WHAT FREEDOM COMES WHEN WE walk in the steps of his responses! a. “I have LEARNED to be content!”… b. “All the things that happened to me were for the furtherance of the Gospel!” “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!” (Phil. 4:11-13; Phil. 1:12; Romans 12:14-21)

    • Church: DIFFERENT says

      AMEN! Especially to item #3 James B! My true passion is that we revisit ‘church’ in light of the New Testament as you have pointed out. For our world today, sadly, it would truly be Church: DIFFERENT!

  14. says

    Where do we go, Thom? Where does a pastor and his wife go for perspective and counsel when the wheels are falling off the bus of an independent evangelical church where the leaders are pulling against each other and alienated from one another. Where do we go to find God’s counsel and His perspective when all we feel is confusion and guilt….where do we go, Thom?

  15. John Sears says

    Thom

    My greatest stress is a lack of volunteers. I serve in a church of primarily retired folks and while they want younger fsmilies to attend it’s me, my wife, and one other couple working with youth. It’s exhsusting. But as the only minister I better be there to serve them. The stress is that the stated desire does not match the reality.

    • Hearspeak says

      That’s a fascinating and grievous stressor and one I’ve seen and heard before. I’d give my right arm to to sit down with you or any pastor/leader and explore the causes and solutions to such a situation!

      “Lefty” Heartspeak

  16. Steve Johnston says

    Having served as the no 2 pastor (associate) for many years in SBC circles, I can say many of the stressors I faced were based on senior pastor and congregational expectations that I eventually imposed on myself, trying to be a people pleaser. Some of these are based on the way we measure success of Pastors (increase in membership, financial budgets and cooperative giving) and the plight of competitive Christianity that plagues us. Trying to keep up with or do more in a community that the other area churches, can add an enormous amount of stress. At some point, you have to remember He who called you, and serve Him with joy and gladness despite the stressors, even though that is at times extremely difficult. God bless all of you still in vocational ministry to rest in HIM!

  17. Heartspeak says

    That’s a fascinating and grievous stressor and one I’ve seen and heard before. I’d give my right arm to to sit down with you or any pastor/leader and explore the causes and solutions to such a situation!

    “Lefty” Heartspeak

  18. says

    I appreciate your suggestions: prayer, a kind word or an encouraging note can all lighten the load. Something that really makes my Hubby/pastor’s day? Volunteer! Pitch in! Take responsibility for the health of the church by visiting shut-ins, helping do repairs, taking food to families, using your gifts to benefit the Body of Christ…

  19. says

    if you’ll take a look at my ministry website, you’ll find that we are called to support and encourage burned out, wounded pastors and their spouses. may i have permission to reprint this article on our blog? i appreciate what you have written and how it will impact pastors.

  20. says

    Thom,

    Thanks for the article. Six and seven are the biggies for me! Sometimes the criticism is so covert! Most times it has little to do with me, but everything to do with a growing church and the fact that people don’t get their way on every little demand. Sometimes, I wonder if it would be easier for me just to slam my own head in the door everyday just to set the tone for upcoming events. :-) What Christians don’t understand is that when they constantly attack their spiritual leaders, they in fact woefully injure themselves and decapitate the very churches they claim to love. They don’t understand that the reason people refuse to serve in leadership is because of injuries they themselves put upon those leaders . . .

    I spent twenty-two years ministering among the Zulus in Africa. Survived the clan wars of the 90′s and while we suffered great hardships in Africa, the past eight years of pastoring in the United States is by far the hardest things I’ve even done . . .

  21. Jonathon Grant says

    #7 Pastors need Pastors

    For much of the past 8 years I have worked in a role of being a trusted friend, advisor, prayer partner or confidant to several Pastors in Florida and Michigan.

    There is nothing more rewarding than standing with the man who is proclaiming truth. Sometimes I stand in front of him and sometimes behind. Now and then I am a shield, jealously protecting his mission, purpose and family time. Sometimes I’m behind him, pushing with all I’ve got. When his arms get tired, I hold them up. When he is taking arrows, I take them too. When the burden is heavy, I grab an end of it and help him carry it.

    Friends, be an encouragement to your Pastor and his family. He isn’t perfect, but he loves you and is doing the good work God has called him to. One day it is your Pastor that will give an account in heaven. Perhaps together we can help him with the story he will discuss with Jesus on that great day.

    Pastors, ask God to send you a confidant and trusted friend who will pray with you, sharpen you and encourage you. I know He will. I know He will, because I am one of those he sends :-)

    May God bless you abundantly as you do His good work and as we celebrate the birth of Christ.

    In His Grip-

  22. Tony Atkins says

    You are so correct and I thank you for bringing this out , there are far to many who do not understand what happens inside the lives of their Pastor’s and his family and their needs . There is one other are I feel needs to be addressed, at least in my case , that is the area of Competition . I have been a pastor actively for the past 32 years and have pastored 4 churches in that time and there now exist more than ever a spirit of competition that should not exist . Many churches compete with one another, even sister churches ! , trying to snatch away as many kids as possible through AWANA, Softball Teams , Basketball ,etc..,., these things require a tremendous amount of help and money and time and when their due season is over…..the kids go back to wherever they came from until next season rolls around . I know some are won to Christ and I praise the Lord but, what is it that we have no actual , true gospel , life changing teaching ! We become a mile wide & 1 inch deep . Small churches suffer badly from this . The parents lift their kids from the little church that does not have the means to do these things, take them to the larger churches and when season is over they come back because they openly admit that their spiritual needs are not being met . That is bad enough to compete with one another but there is more . These so called Mega Churches , in all types of names, even Baptist , That have the coffee shops , gift shops , huge auditorium , Rock style music or rap , light show , theatrics and such . I have personally attended some in my home state and I am appalled . Some are probably well meaning but I went to one ” Baptist ” Church 3 different times and yet have not heard once how to be saved nor an invitation to do so . Too Sad ! Yet Thousands flock to it like moth’s attracted to a light when the switch is turned on and there goes the little church . Despite what others say, there is a reason WHY God has small churches and they are an integral part of the Gospel of Christ ( another sermon, another time ) but there is a HUGE amount of stress in trying to hold a church together against these forces that I think are not always good for God’s people . We Do Not have the finances or resources to compete and I am very sure that I wouldn’t even if I could . You see , I am convinced as my forefathers of the Gospel were that , I preach Christ Crucified . That is all I know that will save men and LITERALLY change their lives MORE than anything can ! And I talk to all the pastors of small churches and most of us agree , that it is terribly stressful trying to hang in there against some questionable forces . I know some may say that I am just jealous that I don’t pastor one of these churches or have their resources but you would be so dead wrong you cannot even imagine . Anyway, it’s just my view . Thanks and God bless .

    • Paul R. Jones says

      I am a chaplain volunteer to the Masonic Home of VA. I do not have the same challenges as church pastors. However I agree with you position that small, Bible preaching and teaching, salvation oriented churches are needed. Seeker churches have become popular, and name it and claim it ministries abound and thrive. The road is narrow to become a Christian follower. Thank you for your ministry.

    • Mark says

      Everyone in a high performing position needs to have some coping mechanism or way to relieve stress. Clergy are not exempt from this. They can go from waiting room of happiness to the other side of waiting room where a family has to be informed that their loved one is now gone, (the icu waiting room is the great equalizer.)

      Why don’t churches agree to cooperate on matters where one church has outside activities and they goeth cannot afford them? I see no harm in that.

  23. DA says

    Just had breakfast with three other pasators this AM in a ‘let your hair down’ fellowship time over a great breakfast. It was a good time that blessed me with much laughter and the encouragement that comes from knowing there are some kindred spirits out there going through the same struggles you are going through…Every pastor needs something like this, a groyup or one-on–one or BOTH and then some….LOOKING FORWARD to our next breakfast fellowship!

  24. Barry Bishop says

    I am experiencing what is described in by 4, 5, 7. Anyone who wants to pray for me, I would sure appreciate it.
    I never realized how much finances would be a distraction to ministering. This past year as I was preparing my Easter sermon, I was faced with having no money in the bank as well. Needless to say it was hard to focus.

    • Jonathon Grant says

      Barry,

      I’m praying that the God of Wonders give you peace so that you can focus on those things which matter most. That He provide those things needed to sustain you and that He raise someone up to help you in areas where you could use a hand or insight.

      Be encouraged friend and remain in the vine. It is a certainty that Jesus has your back in all things.

  25. Pastor Steve Nelson says

    I to stress over bills at our church as well as home and it does get over whelming at times. The feeling that i get when the church rent is do and we only have a hand full of people and alot of times me and my wife sacrifice our bills to make sure the church is totally taken care of. Not complaining but thankful and even trying to purchase the building were in. God knows how much i love the word and teaching so it does get alot stressful were i feel like giving up but that is just giving the victory to the enemy.

  26. says

    I don’t know where “Chaplain Oscar” got his training, but I wouldn’t have a chaplain on my staff who put out that kind of prescriptive nonsense. I’ve been a chaplain and a pastor, and I’m a PK. These issues are real; they require human intervention besides Divine Encouragement. “Telling” people not to get down when they face real challenges is a slap in the face.

    Real Chaplains “Listen,” rather than “Tell.” A Chaplain is in a position to become a friend to a pastor, or several pastors, without risking making things more complicated for the pastor. I’m in a confidential, collegial clergy peer group where we meet to share both issues and support. The value of what we do for each other is immeasurable; we help each other keep perspective, keep on track, and keep a clear view of our call in spite of the challenges of working in very human organizations. I highly recommend every pastor find or create such a group.

  27. says

    Dr.Rainer,

    Enjoyed your article on stressors for Pastors. I also am recommending your book “I am a Church Member,” to the Pastors we oversee.

    I hoep you will take a minute to review our site and see the 16 areas we address for pastors.

    You might also enjoy our Texas Retreat at jordanranch.org it is the place we use to restore leaders.

    Love to visit with you some time,
    GFW

  28. Dave Y. says

    Minister’s are expected to be all things to all people but can’t unless they receive the training and teaching themselves. Our congregation expects our preacher to be a great leader and all that that entails – leading the congregation, supervising the small staff, performance counselling or staff, spiritual counselling of the flock – not just the deliverer of God’s word. The problem we see more often than not is ministers that have not been taught leadership skills necessary to accomplish this. Seminary teaches them religion and how to deliver it to the people but either only gives a cursory lecture on leadership or fails to teach even basic leadership skills in their curriculum. The military and most major corporations recognize that leaders are grown over time with instruction as well as experience. Even natural born leaders need help growing these skills and attend leadership seminars or courses to grow skills when placed in management roles. Ministers come out of seminary and are expected to already have these skills but very few do unless they had prior experience before attending. If those that don’t are lucky, they will be an associate minister first behind a good and sound leader that can teach them the missing skills they need to be successful before being thrust into a Senior Minister role and stressing over a requisite “missing” skill.

  29. says

    The Lord’s Haven was formed to help pastors….to provide a serene location for pastors and their wives to go to be rekindled in the Holy Spirit away from all distraction. We have purchased the land and are in the process of building cabins (small houses) on the wooded property for pastors to use free of charge. Please pray for our ministry as we pray for and encourage all pastors!!! More information can be found at http://www.thelordshaven.org.

  30. Ronald Wesley says

    One problem we have is believing everything we see on the internet. I am posting this under someone else’s name. See how easy it is and you cannot believe the problems it can cause.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Seven Great Stressors on Pastors “Most pastors love their calling. Most pastors could not imagine doing anything else. Most pastors have joy in their ministries. I want to be clear that I don’t view pastors as a depressed, melancholy, and forlorn lot. Most pastors would not come close to fitting that description.” […]

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