Pastoring is hard.
The expectations that are put on us are often unreasonable. Especially the ones we put on ourselves.
As a pastor, it’s so easy to see the mistakes we’re making. Then, when those mistakes are confirmed by church members, congregational leaders, denominational officials, and other pastors it can feel like nothing we ever do is good enough. Plus, there’s the constant stream of podcasts and articles outlining how other pastors seem to have all the answers that elude us.
But, my fellow pastors, I have good news for you today.
You’re probably doing a much better job than you think you are.
In my teaching and travels, I get to have conversations with hundreds of pastors a year. And from what I see, most pastors are doing far better than we think.
Here are just a few areas where most pastors are excelling, but they have a hard time seeing it:
1. You Care
Pastors are among the most loving people I know.
While teachers, nurses, and counselors are rightly lauded for their caring hearts, pastors easily have the same levels of empathy.
In so many towns and neighborhoods, many people still go to their local pastor when they face a crisis or a hard decision and need a shoulder to cry on or a dose of kindness.
2. You Work Hard
Pastoring is 24/7. You’re never completely “off”, even when you’re at home with the family. Plus, so many pastors are bivocational, trying to fit their pastoring around a job that pays the bills.
And it doesn’t matter how many people you’re pastoring. It’s just as hard to pastor a church of 20 as a church of 200. Or 2,000. In many ways, smaller can be harder.
I’m sure there are lazy pastors out there, but my experience shows they are very rare.
Your local pastor is one of the hardest-working people you’ll ever meet.
3. You Love What You Do—And Who You Do It With
Even when it’s hard, pastors are passionate about fulfilling God’s calling on their life.
So many times I’ve seen a pastor smile in glee, or their eyes fill with grateful tears as they share stories about the people they serve—often both at the same time.
Loving Jesus and loving his people is the essence of what we’re called to do. And most pastors excel at both.
4. You’re Sharpening The Saw
Franklin Covey gave us (or at least popularized) the saying “sharpening the saw” as a metaphor for leaders who are constantly honing their skills and getting better at what they do.
I know you do this because you’re reading this article. Whether you found it on your own, are subscribed to my free newsletter, or someone sent it to you, you’re reading it because you want to get better at what you do.
And I know you’re learning in a variety of other ways, from ongoing formal education, to studying scripture, to reading books on pastoral leadership, listening to podcasts, and more.
Almost every pastor I know has a natural curiosity about life, ministry, and serving the church that keeps them fresh.
5. You’re Honoring Jesus
I recently read a book in which the author made outrageously grandiose and critical claims, essentially stating that most churches are dying, and practically every pastor is compromised—except the author himself, of course.
While some churches are dying and some pastors are morally compromised, it is by far the exception, not the rule.
There are so many God-honoring, Jesus-loving, Bible-preaching, congregation-serving pastors in the world. I’m grateful to be in their company.
If you’re honoring Jesus by preaching his Word and loving his people, you’re a far better pastor than you may believe.
6. You’re Still Doing It
Consistency and longevity are two of humanity’s (and the church’s) most underrated character traits.
So much of what pastors do can’t be appreciated until they’ve had the time to be planted, take root, and slowly grow over years, even decades, of ministry.
Our society worships at the altar of fast and big.
But slow and steady is always better. It’s more sustainable, it’s healthier, and it’s being done by so many great pastors.
Thank you, pastor, for answering God’s call and for doing it so consistently, for so long.