I have been in active ministry for over 15 years—that is, I have worked for churches for over 15 years. But I have officially been in ministry for over 25 years. This does not include the seven years I was officially out of ministry. If you count the years I have been mentored by veteran pastors, the number would increase still. This is not to toot my ministerial horn, so to speak. It is to merely state that I have been involved in church ministry for more years of my life than not. I have seen many great things happen in churches. But I have also seen some things that need to be corrected.
One pressing issue is the demands that we place upon pastors. According to Soul Shepherding.org, 75% of pastors feel highly stressed, 90% of pastors work between 55 and 75 hours per week, and 90% feel fatigued every week (https://www.soulshepherding.org/pastors-under-stress/). Even more startling, 80% of pastors will not be in ministry ten years later and only a fraction make ministry a lifelong career (Ibid). On average, seminary trained pastors only last five years in church ministry (Ibid)! The best-trained pastors do not remain in ministry on average. Could it be due to a Superman complex? Houston, we have a major problem!
Quite honestly, these demands do not always originate from the church body. Ironically, they often originate from pastors who feel as if they are called to be Superman. I have read numerous articles from pastors who have placed demands upon themselves and upon others who don the ministerial cloak, demands of which no human being could ever accomplish. I read from one pastor that his church expects the pastoral staff to work no less than 55 hours a week. 55 hours a week! But, it seems that this was impressed upon the church by a previous pastor who was a workaholic.
Pastors, if you feel the incessant desire to overwork yourself, don’t be surprised if your congregation, your body, and especially your family suffers. You may find that your children leave the faith because they feel the church stole their father. In reality, God has not called pastors to be supermen. I repeat. Pastors, you cannot be Superman! Here are a few reasons why.
Pastors, you do not have superhuman stamina…but God does. One of the most forgotten passages of Scripture in the pastorate is Mark 1:35-38, particularly verse 35. Mark writes, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying” (Mk. 1:35). Did you catch that? Jesus, the Son of God, needed personal time with the Father. Jesus later told his disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while” (Mk. 6:30). As pastors, we do not have an unlimited supply of stamina to keep working without rest. As I grow older, I realize how limited a cache of energy I do possess. God has the stamina that we do not have. If Jesus needed rest, how much more do we? Depend on God’s ability to endure and don’t depend on your own stamina in ministry.
Pastors, you do not have superhuman knowledge…but God does. Preaching and teaching are the two areas of ministry that I enjoy most. There is something special about digging into the treasure trove of the hidden mysteries of God and expounding those truths to his people. As a pastor apologist, I take special pleasure in defending the word of God and showing others why they should believe in Christ. Despite that, I have learned that the toughest words to admit are “I don’t know.” We as pastors, especially those of us with advanced training, like to think that we have all the answers. However, we don’t. We read statistics that indicate that the church is dying in America and we fret and mourn, worrying about what we need to do to save the church. We cannot save the church, but God can! We don’t have all the answers, but God does. God has unlimited wisdom where his pastors do not.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brian G. Chilton