There is a common misperception about much of the work that Pastors do. Many folks think that we only work for an hour on Sunday morning but that’s a misperception for another time. The misperception for this entry is that pastors mostly deal with joyous occasions and smiling people – aside from the occasional memorial service.
The truth is that pastors’ spend much of their time in the roles of referee, mediator, negotiator, and traffic cop, dealing with people who, wanting to get their own way, are in differing levels of conflict with each other. In many ways it’s a lot like what a mommy does when her young children are fighting over the cookies or toys. And many of the disputes are no more complex.
The heartbreak for most pastors is that this really cuts into our Golf schedule . . .
OK, seriously, the reality is that these disputes cut into the soul of the pastor and create burnout, both psychological and spiritual. The ones I know who have left the ministry almost unanimously cite the stress caused by conflict as the factor that pushes them out of the pastorate and into a job with much less stress – like munitions disposal . . .
This is not a new phenomenon. It’s been going on for at least two millennia:
Quite frankly, I don’t want to be bothered anymore by these disputes. I have far more important things to do—the serious living of this faith. I bear in my body scars from my service to Jesus. May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes! Galatians 6:14-16 The Message
Paul is right: There are far more important things to do than be caught between a couple of folks acting like toddlers fighting over a cookie. And, like Paul, every pastor I know – yours truly included – bears the scars from these disputes, some so wounded that they have left their calling to serve their Savior and His people.
Please do me and your pastor a solid: Focus on the serious living of this faith. Worry less about getting your own way and more about doing things Jesus’ way – and encourage your compatriots in the faith to do likewise. Doing so will help your pastor do what they do best: Pastor.
Leave the tantrums to the toddlers . . .
Pressing on toward the goal . . .