We have to let go of the unbiblical expectations that have been placed on pastors' shoulders. That we’ve placed on our own shoulders.
Pastors were never meant to carry this big a burden. No one person is capable of being the preacher, teacher, vision-caster, CEO, leader, evangelist, soul-winner, fundraiser, marriage counselor, and all-around paragon of virtue that we expect pastors to pull off – many of them while working a full-time job outside the church walls.
But it's been done this way for so many years, it sometimes feels like a runaway train that can't be stopped.
It must be stopped.
Redefining Success In Ministry
No one can stop this runaway train but us, pastors.
We have to say no.
For some of us, that means saying no to the unreasonable expectations of our church members, deacon boards and denominational officials. But for all of us it means saying no to our own unbiblical expectations of ourselves. Saying no to a paradigm that we have built and perpetuated around a combination of our own egos and insecurities.
We are not the builders of the church, Jesus is.
We are not capable of working ourselves to the bone emotionally and spiritually without something breaking inside us.
We can't keep pushing ourselves physically with too little sleep, too much food and too little exercise.
We can't keep neglecting our spouses and families while we burn the ministry candle at both ends and not expect that everyone – our families, our churches and ourselves – will pay an enormous price for it.
We have to redefine what success in ministry looks like. Because too many good people are being hurt as we pursue our current, unsupportable version of success.
Pray for Each Other
Today, let's pause. Take a breath. And pray.
Pray for the hurting pastors, known and unknown, who have left a church they loved - and maybe still love.
Pray for the famous pastors suffering under the unbearable glare of the spotlight.
Pray for the unknown pastors feeling lost and forgotten.
Pray for their families who have borne years of pain silently, and who are bearing even more right now.
Pray for the church members who don't know whether to feel angry, sad or something else.
Pray that the God who promised that his yoke was easy and his burden light, will ease the much heavier burdens we have placed on our own shoulders. And replace it with his peace, his comfort and his hope.
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