Three Emotions Pastors Bear Which Are Unknown to Most Congregants

Here are three things pastors feel that most —including their congregations— are not aware of

“I have pastored for more than ten years. Many faithful pastors have much longer tenures than me. But in a decade of pastoring I have experienced the gamut of emotions and difficulties. I can speak directly about the things I have faced. I can also speak to things I have witnessed in other dear brothers that I am friends with or have mentored/coached.”

 

Pastors are like ogres. No, we are not hideous monsters who smell, at least not all of us. We are like ogres because we have layers. My Shrek reference, and poor attempt at humor, is to lead into a discussion about the emotions pastors often feel. As I seek to outline a few things pastors feel emotionally as they labor, I want to assure you we are not all emotional misfits. There are incredible moments we experience in pastoring which remind us, while we could do other things with our lives, this is the calling God has given us. However, pastoring is not all smiles, rainbows, and cupcakes. And to be completely honest, sometimes it downright hurts.

I have pastored for more than ten years. Many faithful pastors have much longer tenures than me. But in a decade of pastoring I have experienced the gamut of emotions and difficulties. I can speak directly about the things I have faced. I can also speak to things I have witnessed in other dear brothers that I am friends with or have mentored/coached.

The following are three things pastors feel, and regularly work through emotionally, that most—including their congregations—are not aware of. Following these three things, I give an exhortation to my fellow pastors and for congregants.

Insecurity

You may see us with a smile, but do not let it fool you. Yes, our smiles are genuine, especially if we love the church we have the privilege to lead by serving. But behind those smiles are men who sometimes feel in way over our heads. I regularly say “I feel like I am swimming in the deep end with no floaties.”

We second-guess ourselves. We wonder if we would have said something or done something different if the outcomes would have been different. We constantly wonder “am I doing a good job?” We see other ministries and wonder why we are not experiencing that kind of fruit. And then we look at another one and pat ourselves on the back because we appear to be doing better. Insecurity.

We often feel the need to justify our compensation. We will rarely verbally justify it. We just work ourselves to death to justify it. And to top off all these things, we know we are dealing with eternities, souls that live forever. Who is sufficient for such things? Certainly not us.

Misunderstood

As a pastor who is constantly using words to communicate ideas, plans, and truths, eventually someone will mischaracterized or misinterpret something we say or do. We often say things people do not like to hear. People like to size us up fairly quickly, often writing us off, or make character judgments, without even knowing us.

Sometimes as pastors we have to make decisions or hard calls. There are situations when we have information that informs our decision and knowledge others do not have, but we are not at liberty to share. In some cases, people are unfair to us and question every motive we have for every decision we make. “He only wants us to give so he can have a raise.” “He only wants us to invite so he can say he has a bigger church.” “He only highlighted that family in his story because they’re his friends.” As a pastor, one of the things I was completely unprepared for was the frequency of being mischaracterized or misunderstood and realizing that the wise thing, more times than not, was not to defend myself.

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