In his great love for his people, Jesus was wounded for our sins—for the hurts we have caused—and it is in those wounds and stripes he endured that we find healing and dependence on God. There may be times where our God allows us to experience suffering, but he uses it to give us a greater understanding of his long-suffering love for us.
Sometimes it hurts to be a pastor. Don’t get me wrong: I love being a pastor and would not change this calling God has given me, but sometimes it hurts. Before I was called to the ministry I had a host of different jobs: retail, construction, four years in the Army, janitorial work, sales, and other various kinds of labor. The one way being a pastor is different from other jobs is that you are more often affected by the people you love and the souls you oversee.
One of the greatest challenges in ministry is separating “work” from home. I’ve spent countless nights without sleep, praying for people, begging God to change their minds about certain decisions. There is also the tendency to be the father-figure who is always hovering over his flock, because you love the sheep so much that you are afraid to let them make life-altering decisions.
There is also the hurt that comes when people you love and cherish speak about you in ways you just can’t fathom. Pastors have a history of loving and sacrificing for their sheep, whose words of disapproval or critique can hurt deeply.
Ministering to Others’ Pain
Last year was a season in ministry that had its fair share of pain. Yet in his grace, God used those wounds to remind me of wounds I once caused. I had moved to San Diego in 2007 with a team of people to plant a church. In late 2008, my theological views shifted away from a seeker-sensitive type ministry to a more biblical view of the church.