I gave you three reasons the other day why pastoring could be the happiest job. But that’s not the full picture. There are at least three reasons why pastoring may be the toughest job at the same time:
- Nobody is qualified. Think about what’s required in a pastor. The truth is that nobody measures up. Apart from the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, it’s simply an impossible job. I’m terrified of any pastor who doesn’t realize this. You can improve your preaching and pastoral skills, but nobody has what it takes to be a good pastor on their own steam.
- The expectations are unclear and they’re crushing. Preach like Billy Graham – well, except not like Billy Graham, there are other favorites too. Lead like Jack Welch. Have the charisma and presence of George Clooney. Work the room like a seasoned politician. People aren’t actually clear on what they want in a pastor, but it’s abundantly clear that no one person can meet the expectations out there. (Big hint here: one of the best things churches and pastors can do is to clarify expectations of what’s required.)
- The North American church is languishing. When churches are plateaued or declining, the pastor often gets blamed. The fact that the church in North America seems to be flatlined means that a lot of pastors are going to be left holding the bag.
Is it all bad? No. My friend Chris Brauns keeps reminding me that the call to pastor – indeed, the call to follow Christ – inherently includes suffering. Read the New Testament. Things haven’t changed too much. There’s a burden that comes with pastoring that’s simply part of the job.
Is pastoring the happiest job or the crappiest job? Probably a bit of both. That’s just part of what it means to be a pastor.