The long term pastor faces frustrations, betrayal, weariness, loneliness, disappointments, burnout, depression, marital conflict, criticism, and even contempt. It shouldn’t surprise us at all that there are so many obstacles for long term pastors and one of the greatest obstacles is even surviving to be a pastor long enough to be considered a long term one.
It is far too easy to be in the same work for a long time and just go through the motions but being in the pastorate, that is not a good thing at all because so many depend on you. Some get so used to doing the same thing week after week that they start to rely on routine and not diligence and also they forget that they are dependent upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Whom is their Teacher. There are two extremes for pastors as with any job; slothfulness or laziness and the workaholic. Both are not good. I see far more workaholic pastors than lazy ones but I have also seen some of my own material on the Internet being posted on other writer’s blogs and then my name taken out and theirs put on it and the same materials I wrote for other websites became sermons for other pastors. I don’t notice a lot of these; they are usually brought to my attention, but a pastor that steals other men’s work is one that is seriously challenged because he is not taking the time to study for himself and all pastors are commanded to do the hard work and study to show themselves approved, not by men, but before God (2 Tim 2:15). If a pastor is simply going through the motions, then something is seriously wrong. He either needs a break, a sabbatical, or he is not actually called into the pastorate. I know how tempting it is to try and steal other pastor’s sermon material but the problem with that is that stealing is breaking the law; it is sin. It also takes away the benefit of the pastor studying the Bible for himself so that he might learn more of the Word, thereby denying his growing in the grace and knowledge of God.
The vast majority of pastors are struggling with burnout because they’re on call 24/7 and do funerals, grief counseling, marital counseling, perform marriages, attend wedding rehearsals, do Hospice and hospital visits, and attend multiple meetings. According to Pew Research (in 2014), 90% of the pastors feel inadequately trained and still spend between 55-70 hours per week at a job that pays the second lowest of all those with professional degrees. I think that’s why pastors need to take regular, consistent vacations to recharge, refresh, and rejuvenate and spend some quality time with their families. Their first ministry is not with the church but with their families because if their family breaks down, so too can the ministry. The pastor and his family are the ones more frequently under satanic attack and knowing that most churches have tares mixed in with the wheat, these attacks can come from people within the church.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt