With few recent posts on the social media sphere, many people have gotten a scope of what pastoral ministry is like. Here’s what they said about pastoring is weird.
- You pour your heart and soul into people who now act like you don’t exist.
- You offer countless hours of counseling who later delete you.
- You honor people who later turn out to slander and treat you like a villain.
- You are under a constant microscope and being monitored for faults and failures.
- Your mistakes are broadcasted as proof that you’re unqualified for ministry.
- Your words are used against you by anyone disgruntled, annoyed, and petty people.
- You shepherd and protect sheep from wolves but are later accused of being the wolf itself.
As a rookie whipper-snapper pastor who’s been in for the past 10-plus years in pastoral ministry, I guess I get where the person is coming from.
Here are my 7 thoughts in response to how pastoring is weird.
Is the Pastoral Ministry “Really” a Weird Calling?
(1) People Act like You Don’t Exist
This makes me think of Jesus when all the disciples turned away and hid when he went to the cross.
Peter denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man, Jesus.” (Matt 26:72).
(2) People Ghost You and Will “Block” You
This part is the reality that perhaps crushes many ministers. However, with soul-crushing reality, God holds us fast with his irresistible grace. You can look to Christ who always will hold you close to His side.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor 4:8-11).
(3) People Treat You Like the Antichrist
The hardest part of ministry is not preaching a “solid sermon” but forgiving those who hurt you and loving them still. I am reminded that those who hate me are not hating me but hating the one within me, who is Jesus, which the world has rejected.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18).
(4) People Go After Character Assassination
I look to Jesus, and the people crucified the King of Jews and did not even recognize it till the end. That alone is eye-opening, but what is jaw-dropping reality is that Jesus looks to them and has compassion with love.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
(5) People Are Fault Finders who Destroy Reputations
Pastoral ministry no doubt can have those who try to tear you down, but it is a noble calling from God.
“If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” (1 Tim 3:1).
(6) People Have Hyper Critical Spirit Over Everything
Sometimes, people will over-qualify you for the task, but Paul doesn’t do that. You can rest assured in that calling because Jesus the perfect example sustains us in all aspects of life.
“See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.” (Col 4:17).
(7) People Will Slaughter You as Wolf in Sheep’s-Clothing
Sometimes, when you preach the truth of the gospel, people will hate you. Part of the problem in the era that we live in, there are not enough preachers who are willing to die for Jesus, and people trying to kill the preacher. Darkness does not have fellowship with the light.
“For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:20).
The Reality and Hardship of Pastoral Ministry
It is easy to gloss over these statements, but there’s some wisdom here for every pastor. Especially when the article, “Departure: Why I Left the Church” article came out on September 3, 2023, with the pastor Alexander Lang in Illinois. He said the following,
“After preaching sermons week after week for 10 years, I’m not only leaving my post as head of staff, but I’m going to be leaving the pastorate altogether.”
I don’t know all the theology of the person, but there’s seasonal wisdom in this article. I’ve had even members who are not part of the church send me, “Praying for you Jonathan as you pastor and shepherd God’s flock”
The truth is, pastoring is not just weird, pastoring is hard. Statistics show that 85% of seminary graduates who enter ministry will leave ministry in the first 5 years. I feel for so many pastors who are struggling and fighting over depression.
This article is proof that pastors need friends in that darkest night of the soul moments. I remember having “friends” in the deepest and desperate moments who did not judge me or ostracize me because I had some “weakness”. I thank God and praise God for folks like that! The calling of pastoral ministry is difficult. To be a “pastor” is often a lonely road and we need one another in the trenches.
If you don’t have one, pastoring will eat you for lunch. Pray unto God that he will give you as Scripture will say, “a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Prov 18:24). Surround yourself with friends who will fight for you.
Pastoring is not only weird, but pastoring is also hard. Embrace that calling and run hard after Jesus.
Pastoral Ministry is a Glorious Calling
However, one reality the two social media posts have missed is this; pastoral ministry is a glorious calling.
I was reminded of that as I was on campus at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with the For the Church 2023 conference this year.
There is no doubt ministry is challenging and difficult, but this calling is from heaven above and God has entrusted the pastors to shepherd His bride. Gospel ministry is a glorious calling and sometimes, if we are not careful, we can get lost in the forest by focusing on the trees.
Charles Spurgeon said it well one time, “We tend to engrave our suffering in marbles and write our blessing in a sand”
God the Shepherd who is good is with you (Ps 23:1-4).
Jesus the Savior of the world is beside you (Acts 4:10-12).
Spirit the Helper send of God is within you (John 14:26).
Trinity the Comforter of mercy is before you (2 Cor 1:3).
Divine One the Friend of sinners is there for you (Matt 11:19).
Yes, pastoring is weird, but pastoring is so much more glorious indeed. What a joy, what a delight, and what a glorious calling God has placed upon our lives to shepherd God’s people. What you do matters pastors, and you are valuable to the flock of God.
Let us not grow weary in doing good (Gal 6:9).
Let us hold fast as we share in Christ (Heb 3:14).
Let us stay faithful to the task until the end (Phil 1:6).
Let us press on towards the goal of the upward call of God (Phil 3:14).