During my time serving as the leader of a para-church ministry I became friends with many pastors. We served together on committees and community efforts. Part of my job was to meet with pastors to share about our ministry, and ways that churches could connect with us.
I had no idea when my ministry journey began of what I would learn from pastor’s about the church and it’s people. Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned:
- Pastor’s are people. I think we forget this. They have families, are spouses, parents, friends, and people. They hurt, have personal problems, struggles, frustrations, and no one to share them with.
- They struggle to be all. They are expected to visit every sick person, go to every meeting, smile at every service, maintain a joyful disposition, and love everything everyone in the church does.
- They mess up. Pastor’s are actually people who commit sins. I am not just referring to the big sins, but all sin. They doubt, fear, don’t trust, worry, gossip, and you name it. They are imperfect people. They sin.
- They don’t get the pay they deserve, and the vacation time they always need. One pastor I knew got a 1/4 of his pay cut and was expected to work the same amount hours. Of course he couldn’t walk around complaining, because that would be “ungodly”.
- Their wives are saints. They put up with people bashing their husbands, judging their children, hurting their family, and trying to dictate their lives. They have to share their husbands with a large group of people, and that is hard.
- They have few people to talk to. They talked to me because they knew I understood the burden of ministry. Yes it is a great weight. We are talking about peoples souls. We are talking about making budgets, providing for needs, dealing with the friction between people who call themselves Christians, division, gossip, adultery, drug addiction, and the mess of trying to love sinful people.
I met with pastor’s who made me cry.
I met with pastor’s who hit on me.
I met with pastor’s who watched tv while they wrote their sermons out.
I met pastor’s who were devoured by their congregations, were devastated because of a church split, were attacked by fellow church members, had to attend negotiations between staff, were dealing with depression, and the news of molestation taking place in their own congregation.
I never saw the church quite like I did when I spoke with pastor’s. It was then that I realized how hard their job is, their calling.
The church is a beautiful mess. It’s full of sinners who sin. It’s where we go to try to get this thing right. The good churches know what to do with sin, and how to help others overcome it. It’s dealt with in a loving, but intentional way.
I learned that we don’t go to church because that’s where the good people show up. We go because that’s where a bunch of messed up people show up to learn how to follow and become like Christ.
As long as God, Jesus and His gospel are at the center we have a good thing going.
There is no where in this world that we can go where everyone will get it right. We can go somewhere where people are trying to change, and become more like Someone who does get it right.
Let’s be kind, and loving to those who are called to lead our churches. It’s not always a calling they want, or asked for. They hurt, cry, doubt, have fear and worry. They can’t tell you how messed up things are, so they carry it. They need our prayers, our support, and our service. We are to serve alongside of them and be the legs and feet they need to accomplish God’s work.
Chief among messed up church members,