I get to hang out and know many senior pastors. I have a great heart for them and understand, firsthand, some of the pressures, frustrations, and joys which are unique to the role of a senior pastor. In my recent blog survey, over half my readers are in ministry and half that number are senior leaders.
After sharing these points at a conference for executive pastors I was asked to give my perspective as a senior pastor, since each of them report to one. I have revised some of them and added a couple, so I decided to share it again.
Here are 10 “secrets” about many senior pastors:
1. Leading from this position is overwhelming at times. We know Christ is ultimately in charge, but we also know it often seems everyone looks to us to have all the answers.
2. People tell the senior pastor all kinds of things about what is happening in their life or in the lives of others…many we would sometimes rather not know…and sometimes the weight of others problems we carry is enormous.
3. Most pastors walk with a degree of uncertainty, which keeps us in prayer, but also makes us question our abilities at times. It makes depression common for many senior pastors. (Need a Biblical example…see 1 Kings 19.)
4. Many senior pastors fear the possibility of failing in their role, so they thrive on the encouragement and prayers of others.
5. Sometimes we allow insecurity to cause us to become overprotective of our reputation and our position.
6. We face the same temptations and occasional spiritual dryness as everyone else. This means we need accountability, but are often afraid to seek it.
7. Our spouse is sometimes the loneliest person in the church and often feels extreme pressure to live up to unrealistic expectations.
8. Loneliness can exist for all leaders and many pastors suffer from it.
9. We seldom know whom we can trust, which is why we become guarded and appear hard to get to know. Most senior pastors have been burned by someone they once trusted.
10. We suspect the staff, church leaders, and congregation sometimes talk about us behind our back.
Granted, not every pastor faces each of these (that’s why I said “many”) and I happen to be in an extremely healthy church, but even still, some of these are real for me at times. Other pastors, for reasons on this post, will not want you assuming these things about them. In talking with dozens of senior pastors each year, I know this is a representative list for "many."
Senior pastors find joy in our work and, thankfully, most of us know we are in the center of God’s will vocationally. I don’t intend to take anything away from that in this post. We serve in a called position, so we are doing what we have been asked of God to do. When I share any post like this, however, I have come to expect a lecture on the need to depend on Christ for these issues, which only further demonstrates my points.
Senior pastors are to fully rely on Christ’s strength, as is every other believer. This is just a reminder that we happen to also be like Elijah…"a man just like us" (James 5:17).
Pastors, anyone honest enough to agree?