Whether you attend a large church or a small church you've probably gone to your pastor for advice. Pastors deal with people's problems, anxieties, and "issues" on a daily basis. They are privy (not necessarily in a good way) to the ugly side of human nature. They carry with them a burden day in and day out of peoples' scars and hang-ups.
But what about those times when the pastor himself needs a pastor? No, you didn't read that wrong. I did just say that. What? You thought that all pastors are so super spiritual that they don't need counsel or advice themselves?
I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but we are human, too. Despite the popular belief, ministry cannot be summed up in a book. We get burdened, depressed, and distressed; we worry about our families, finances, and how we're gonna pay next month's mortgage; most of us are full-time pastors while working a regular 40+ hour a week job on top of everything else. We juggle our secular work along with our families, ministry, and sermon prep. Factor in that most congregations' expectations for the pastor include all, but not limited to:
- Growing the church
- Hospital visitation
- New member discipleship
- Directing all the new programs that people desire
- Leading most, if not the entire worship service
- Door-to-Door visitation
- Visiting the widows
- Ministering to those in jail
- ...And so on and so on
In short, we can get easily burned out!
So the question for us as pastors to consider is, who pastors the pastor? Where do we go when we're feeling like everything is spinning headlong into insanity?
I can't really speak for anyone but myself. I know I have a group of men here locally that will share that burden with me. I am also loosely connected to a network where I can call upon another older and wiser pastor for advice. In fact, I have done so recently, even though that pastor lived 3 hours away from me! It's wonderful to have men that I can fall back on and glean wisdom from when I know I need to. For those pastors who may be reading this it is especially important to have some kind of network, not just for sanity's sake but for accountability. It is way too easy to give in to temptations when we have no one to keep us in check.
If you're a congregant please keep in mind that your pastor is not a machine. He deals with life just like you, along with the added burden of teaching God's Word. This is not to discourage you from ever seeking your pastor out again. It is simply a reminder to be patient and understanding if he seems a little distant or not "interested." He may have his own worries at present.
We do get burned out and need rest just like you. Pastoring is a God-calling vocation. It is tough, requires fortitude, and is never to be taken lightly.
I wouldn't trade it for the world!!!