What? Pastor’s have struggles?
Last night I attended a banquet to close our denomination’s 2017 regional convention.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve looked around the room and wondered to myself,
“What these guys are struggling with? Do they share any of my struggles? Do they have anyone to confide in?”
The reality is, many pastors are struggling.
More significantly, they often don’t have anyone to talk to. They don’t have anyone to share deeply with, regarding their struggles. Struggles that carry the unwritten rule that, “The pastor should never let his personal stuff out of the bag!”
History has shown us that many churches allow and promote grace for its flock. This is an incredible position, that should be commended! And yet, quite often in the same church setting, the pastor is expected to be squeaking clean.
Sure, people may suspect he has struggles, but they should never be can’t be admitting those publicly.
Here’s 3 struggles your pastor might be scared to talk about, but he wants to. Actually, he needs to.
Surely, with all that Biblical education under his belt, our pastor would never experience doubt! He should be an expert apologist, easily defending every secular attack on the faith.
This is not always the case.
In truth, I have had moments where I’m tempted by the thought that Christianity may just be another religion. It’s actually a terrifying moment when these thoughts seep into your mind.
“Maybe there’s nothing to this? Maybe I’ve been following a religious institution that holds no weight? Maybe my life’s work will be meaningless?“
Thankfully, in my experience, God has always been faithful. A still, small voice which needs no defence, needs no evidence, stirs inside of me: “Tell me about it Jeremy.”
Then I find myself in a conversation with the Lord, pouring our my doubts.
“I’m struggling Father. Show me the faith I need to have. Help me stand on Your Word with confidence. Lean into me in my time of doubt.”
Patience should be a quality that comes easy to every pastor, right?
Pastors are actually in a life-long pursuit not to internalize the anger that stems from a multitude of issues found in the church.
Working through board and committee meetings of restlessness and rabbit trails, year after year. Counselling a flock who often make the same mistakes, over and over again.
Being slow to anger is a difficult challenge.
Too often, this anger and frustration is bottled up for months, years or even decades. Then suddenly, some sort of erratic behaviour presents itself in the pastor. The flock is left in true wonder. “What’s the pastor’s problem these days?”
In worse case scenarios, they state the obvious, “Is the pastor having a mental breakdown?”
Before that moment, a pastor needs to be honest with the Lord and the leadership.
“I’m angry. I’m angry and I can’t shake it. It’s eating me up inside. I need help.”
Hopefully, the leadership will seek the Lord’s guidance in mining for the source of that anger. More importantly, seek counsel on how to work their pastor through that anger.
And no, this isn’t just about fat pastors.
Sure, there are many pastors like myself, who struggle with their weight. This struggle stems from the pleasure and false-comfort found in food. But this isn’t always the case. I’ve come to learn that the overweight pastor isn’t the only one struggling in this area.
Many pastors, even those who seem fit, seek relief from ministry stress and anxiety, by seeking out a high that’s found in either food or drink (sweetened, not alcoholic).
For example, a pastor would never seek a dopamine boost from drugs or alcohol. But a dopamine boost from sugar or refined carbohydrate? That’s fair game in Christian circles!
Before too long, a deep addiction is formed.
Some pastors have a dependency on Coke or Red-bull to speak every Sunday morning. Some pastors have a dependency on a box of Oreos or large bag of Doritos to ease their anxiety after a business meeting.
Maybe these aren’t fair game?
In truth, these can lead to a significant spiritual problem, as well as the obvious health problems.
So how can you help your pastor?
Be bold. Ask him what’s going on his life. But not in a tonne of judgement, but legitimate concern. Perhaps, tell them about this blog post – that some pastor came clean with 3 struggles that he has and will continue to work through.
Getting it out in the open is the first step.
Join the Conversation, Leave Your Thoughts
What pastoral struggle would you add to this list?