This article has been making its way around the social media sites, and it seems to resonate with a lot of people in ministry. However, if you are a member of First Presbyterian Church in Argenta, most of them are not about YOUR pastor.
1. Our greatest fear is irrelevance.
I’m not even sure what my greatest fear is, but irrelevance isn’t it. What we’re doing at First Pres IS making a difference in people’s lives. I think it’s important that our congregation and our neighbors know this as well as our pastor.
2. We are Mama’s boys. (The author, Mark Love, apologizes to the women for this, and, obviously, it does not apply to me)
3. S/he sees you when you’re sleeping. The author points out that we can see the congregation and your energy (or lack thereof) affects our energy. Honestly, I am much more likely to see something that makes me laugh in our congregation than I am to see something that makes me yawn. The hazards of not sending all those elementary kids away to children’s church.
4. We think about quitting a lot. Okay, yeah. I do. Because there are a lot of bad days in ministry. There is always more to do than there is time, money or people to get it done. So I think about it, but generally before I can make up my mind to do so, something happens to remind me of why I do this. And I stay.
5. We envy people who can be themselves. Um, no, I don’t. It takes too much energy to be someone else. And as a solo pastor and (often single) mom, I don’t have a lot of extra energy. And I serve a congregation who doesn’t expect me to be anyone but me. Praise Jesus.
6. We are often spiritually starving. I wouldn’t agree that I am starving. I do agree that it’s difficult to worship somewhere and not think that I might use that sermon illustration some time, or to read the Bible just because and not think about how I might teach or preach that passage, but that feeds my spirit as well. But the author is right in that we do tend to do anything BUT something spiritual in our down time, because it seems too much like work.
7. We are sinful, no different than you. Pretty sure our congregation knows this. No big revelation here.
8. We are lonely because it’s hard to trust. I will say that I am not lonely, nor do I find it hard to trust. And I have a number of friends outside of our congregation. What does fall in this category for me is that none of our members (or even members of my family) will never know all of what I am dealing with or processing at any given moment. There is much that I can’t share, so no, I can’t ever tell you everything–but it’s not because I don’t trust you.
9.Ministry is a hard job. Yes.
10. We are more sensitive than you think. Actually, it’s pretty hard to hurt my feelings. It can (and has) been done, but not often. But the fact that I serve a church where people are gracious rather than critical when it comes to mistakes helps a lot.
11. We care about you more than you know. Yes. I love the people in our congregation fiercely. I celebrate when you celebrate. I hurt when you hurt. I adore your children and feel honored to be a part of their lives.
12. This is my add on: You have no idea what I do with my time. Because I don’t clock in at 8 or 9 and clock out again at 5, it is hard to tell when I’m working and what I’m doing. I’m often not in the church building. I pick up my child at school at 3:45 everyday, but you’ll get e-mails from me at 10 at night. Every day and every week is different. And what exactly constitutes “church work” is subjective. If I call a church member to arrange carpool for our children, but also talk about her sick father and how her children are handling it, am I working or not? If I go a visit a person in the hospital who lives in the neighborhood, but is not a member of the church, is that church time or my time? If I spend time with a local ministerial alliance, am I representing the church or feeding my own spirit? If I am thinking about my sermon while I’m driving, am I working or merely commuting? There is much trust that a congregation gives to a pastor, because there’s no way you can ever know what I really do on daily/weekly basis.