I’ve met some–happy pastors that is. But if you spend enough time with enough pastors, you find that the bulk of them (us) are discouraged, depressed, or dreaming of some escape from the madness otherwise known as ministry.
Ministry’s tough. It’s especially tough because most people think they have a right to tell you how to do your job. I imagine it’s a lot like being President, without the personal helicopter. Everyone knows better than you–you just make an easy target.
I started preaching through the book of Philippians a couple of weeks ago and spent week 1 reveling over the ridiculous affection Paul had for these people. He was a happy pastor…at least with this crew.
Depending on what source you check out, statistics show that pastors generally have a shelf life of 2-5 years. That’s not per church…that’s per career. By that standard I would have already been done and moved into another sector.
And I was close.
I was going to pursue teaching or modeling, but most likely teaching since “pasty and pudgy” isn’t a high-grossing category. But I was done. Yet here’s Paul, most likely writing from prison in Rome, brimming over with joy because of his relationship with the Philippian Christians.
So what’s the difference between Paul’s experience and that of so many pastors out there? Well let’s consider why Paul’s affections were raised so highly.
Philippians 1:3-5 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy (Okay we get it, Paul. You’re happy and joyful and sing-talking as you write this, but why?)…verse 5 because of your PARTNERSHIP in the gospel from the first day until now.
You catch that? The Philippians were partners in ministry. They didn’t just pay a pastor to do ministry; they joined alongside and took responsibility. They bore one another’s burdens. They served and gave and sacrificed and prayed.
When I preached this sermon I dared to draw a distinction between partners and parasites. It seemed harsh to me at first, but I felt the Spirit saying, do it. Plus, if I tell people the Spirit made me do it, how can they be mad at me? Win-Win.
Parasites take, consume, and contribute little to nothing to their host. In this case, the host is the church body. The parasites are people who do very little to help the church be the church. They may be faithful attenders, but as far as being contributors, not so much. They’ll point out when their preferences aren’t met and when someone else messes up.
I wonder if it’s such people who end up causing pastors to wave the white flag? Sure, there are other factors that contribute to pastors jumping ship, but it’s not like they go to other churches. They just leave ministry.
So let me encourage you, church member/attender, partner with your pastor(s) in ministry. Fulfill the commands of Hebrews 13:17 and “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with JOY and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
You don’t want a grumpy pastor; so don’t be grumpy, greedy people. Beyond that, if the love of God has been poured into your being, how are you showing that in your local church?