I want to let you in on a little secret- being a pastor can be pretty great.
I read a lot of articles circulating on blogs and Facebook talking about the poor, mistreated pastor, about unrealistic expectations, the challenges of living in a fishbowl, the criticisms, the lack of support, the stress, the relatively low pay compared to other professions with similar educational requirements. These things can all be true. Certainly we should all strive to treat our pastors the way the Scriptures tell us to (Heb. 13:17 for example). But consider the following points:
1. As a pastor, I am paid money to read the Bible and study theology. I know a great many good Christians in other professions who would love to have time to study theology more. I am expected to do it.
2. I am invited into many of the most intimate aspects of people’s lives. In an age of alienation and loneliness, of breakdown of community, the pastor has the opportunity to share a great many joys and sorrows with other believers. This is quite a privilege and honor.
3. The schedule can be challenging, but is usually flexible. A pastor often sets much of his own schedule. This can be a pitfall for men who are not self-motivated. But I do not miss the days of punching a time clock one bit.
4. I get to be a means God uses to sanctify people. (Ephesians 4:11-12) What a great blessing and joy this is, to see people grow in the Lord! And it’s not because of my superior wisdom or moral example. It’s because of God’s sovereign work through the means He has appointed– the chief of which is the preaching of the Word. James refers to Christians as having been “brought forth by the word of truth”- that the preaching of the Word causes the “birth” of Christians. All Christians, not just pastors, are part of the whole process of mutual encouragement and exhortation. But pastors get to watch this process up close and personal. Many times I have watched people come to faith, growing in faith, repenting of sin and turning to righteousness, and there are few joys in life that can compare.
So don’t feel sorry for me as a pastor. I chose this life, and I pray to God that I get to do it for a long time. It’s a great privilege. And of course, while people need to be exhorted to treat their pastors right, plenty of pastors need to be exhorted to treat their congregations right- to lovingly shepherd them, to fight the hard fights that need to be fought, to be diligent in their work. Sometimes I think pastors slip into self-pity over their particular challenges, and forget all the blessings and privileges they’ve been given. The life of a pastor has its challenges, just like the life of a businessman or farmer or doctor does. But there are also unique blessings, and pastors would do well not to forget that.