In my previous article, I shared with you some statistics compiled by the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development.
There is considerable evidence that the clergy profession in America is in a state of crisis. Perhaps the most telling statistic is that 90% of pastors will eventually quit the pastorate (as a profession) and do something else. Another jaw-dropper is that 75% of pastors will experience an emotional breakdown sometime during their ministry career.
What Pastors Wish Their Church Members Knew is actually the title of a book by Denise George. For her book, Ms. George interviewed hundreds of pastors and boiled their comments down to a list of 13 things that pastors wished their members knew. I will comment on 4 of them.
"I’m Not Superman"
Church members tend to expect a lot of their pastor. For example, during my interview process with you, I was given a list of 31 expectations. Obviously, not everyone has all 31 expectations – but for each expectation, a least one person in the church has it. The result is that THE PASTOR IS ALWAYS DISAPPOINTING SOMEBODY! Many pastors struggle with that and feel guilty all the time.
"Preaching is the Hardest Thing I Do"
Most church members don’t realize how difficult it is to prepare a sermon each week. Just as a farmer or laborer is often PHYSICALLY drained by the end of the week, I am typically EMOTIONALLY drained. There’s been Sundays I have literally collapsed to the floor after preaching. It takes me about 20-30 hours to prepare a sermon . . . and each Monday, the process starts over again.
"You’re Difficult Now & Then"
I realize this goes both ways; I can be difficult as well. I guess what has surprised me over the years is that, to the best of my recollection, no church member has ever apologized to me, even after having said or done something particularly hurtful. I wonder if some members think it’s the pastor’s job to take that stuff. Unfortunately, unless the pastor is really careful, resentment can build up.
"Please Let Me Lead"
Some church members view the pastor with distrust. Unfortunately, in some cases, the distrust is earned. However, where a pastor has shown himself NOT to be heavy-handed or dictatorial, a wise church will be responsive to his leadership. (I said "responsive," which is different from "compliant.") The truth is, the pastor has a perspective that no other person in the church has.
Now, what about you? What are some things you wish a PASTOR knew? I would love to hear from you.
I will share some of your responses (anonymously) in next week’s article. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.