For the past couple of years, I have had the personal privilege of serving as the chairman of the Shepherding Committee for the Chicago Metro Presbytery. The committee has a plethora of administrative duties (transferring pastors in and out, making recommendations to the presbytery regarding calls, providing advice to churches, etc.). Ultimately, the committee is challenged “to promote spiritual growth and provide care” and to “provide pastoral oversight, coaching and care...” Care. Believe it or now, pastors need care, too.
Brother Pastor, if your heart and life is anything like mine, there are times where you find yourself running on empty, depressed, lonely, and questioning whether or not you are really cut out for this thing called pastoring. Why is that? Well...
You carry heavy burdens and sometimes alone
Over the course of a week you have been in multiple conversations with people outside your church who are hurting, lost, and needing guidance. These conversations are not public knowledge. Not are you called to care for your own soul, marriage and children, but you are responsible for caring for your congregation which is quite weighting responsibility. At times our lives, marriages and children can be a mess, right? But when you become shepherd of a local church, things can get pretty hairy at times.
You have to balance a lot of stuff
Often the average Church member only sees you on Sunday mornings delivering a message, shaking hands, and kissing babies. The reality is you have had to multitask and be amazing time managers because pastoral ministry is not just about preaching a sermon or two on Sunday.
You are responsible for faithfully proclaiming God’s Word each week
Every Sunday, no matter what the week has been like, you have been entrusted with the privilege of delivering a Spirit-empowered, God-exhalting, Jesus-centered sermon. Preparing for a sermon requires that you spend considerable time with God, his Word, and in the original languages. It also requires allowing God’s word to penetrate your own heart before bringing the sermon to the congregation. Preaching not a weekly presentation of a term paper, but “when accompanied by the Spirit’s presence and power, is Christ’s living voice to the church and world today. Christ is really present in the preaching of the gospel” (J. Mark Beach). The call to preach is no little thing!
You are sometimes lonely
Pastoral ministry can be lonely calling, right? Sometimes your members place you on a pedestal that you never asked to be on. This leads them to forget that you are just another human being who needs friends, too.
You drop the ball
You don’t always get this ministry thing right. You may not preach as well as your congregation prefers, pray as much as they deserve, counsel as well as they need, or lead as well as they desire. You know this because you feel it deep in your bones and because members are often quick to tell you so. Ministry can be difficult.
BUT, TAKE HEART!
But brother, take heart. Hang in there. Remember that you are not your latest sermon. You are not defined by the failure of some program. The world (and maybe even your church) may determine success by nickels and noses. Your value does not come from acquiring, achieving, or impressing others. Your value comes from Christ.
Friend, don’t forget that Jesus will someday come back to make all things new (I can’t wait for that day!) But until that glorious day, serve him in the confidence and rest in him.
Together for the gospel,
P.S. - Know that you have a brother in the Chicagoland area caring for you from a distance praying for you.