When the Pillar of the Community has a Crack


Editor’s note:

I got a nasty note from a parishioner yesterday.  Not my first, won’t be the last.  After over 30 years of ministry I’m circumspect about these nasty things.  I understand that most of these come from personal issues facing the individual, or their family, that they can’t control but expect me to fix.  Besides, the pastor is an easy target; rarely do they strike back and, in many churches, the way you get what you want is to stomp your feet and yell (just like in preschool).  But I have a healthy self esteem and a clear sense of my ministry, so I’ll be just fine, thanks.

But for many of my colleagues, these and similar attacks are not so easy to shrug off.  The article below is as tragic as it is true. This is a tough job and it has many casualties.  Please read on . . .

8 HUGE Struggles Pastors Face

by Thom Rainer

Before me are handwritten notes that I took over a few weeks from various social media interactions, emails and a few phone calls. The total is nearly 200 separate communications to me. I kept a record of them for one simple reason: I wanted to identify the greatest pain points of pastors today.

In many ways, there are no surprises. Indeed, I doubt most of you will be surprised at my findings.

If nothing else, it is a good reminder of how we can help our pastors, and how we can pray for them. Of course, you will quickly see that they are not mutually exclusive.

They are listed in the order of frequency I noted.

1. Criticism and conflict. 8 struggles of pastors

I do have a few observations about this number one issue.

First, it seems to be growing, and pastors seem to be experiencing greater challenges.

Second, most of the issues of conflict are not doctrinal issues. Indeed, most are trivial issues.

Finally, very few pastors are equipped and trained to deal with the steady stream of critics and crises.

2. Family problems.

Many pastors struggle with expectations by church members of their spouses or children. Others struggle with finding time for their families.

Many pastors’ families struggle with the “glass house” syndrome.

3. Stress.

The pastor’s life is one of emotional highs and lows. It includes critics and adoring fans. Expectations from church members can be unreasonable. The very nature of a pastor’s call into ministry can lend itself to seemingly unending stress.

4. Depression.

Every time I write about this topic, I hear from countless pastors and staff.

Depression is pervasive in pastoral ministry. And it is often the “secret” problem.

5. Burnout.

Local church ministry can attract two broad types of persons: the lazy and the workaholic.

Accountability is often low, and it can be easy to get away with little work, or to work 70 plus hours a week. I see more of the latter than the former.

6. Sexual problems.

These problems are most often in one of two categories: pornography or marital unfaithfulness.

7. Financial problems.

Most of the world hears about the few pastors who make huge salaries.

The reality is that the majority of pastors struggle financially.

8. Time management.

Expectations of pastors can be unrealistic.

Pastors are often expected to attend multiple meetings, to visit countless congregants, to prepare sermons with excellence, to provide ongoing strategic leadership, to conduct weddings and funerals, and to be involved in the community.

Many pastors don’t know how or when to say “no.” And many are not good at delegating, or they really don’t have anyone who can handle some of their responsibilities.

Most pastors love their callings. Most pastors enjoy most of what they do in ministry. And most pastors wouldn’t change their role if they could.

Still, many pastors have ongoing challenges and struggles. And many would gladly receive help from church members, a word of encouragement from most anyone, and the knowledge that others are praying for them.


Hug Your PastorPlease pray for your pastor. But do more than that – offer to take them to lunch, tell them about something they did or said that had a positive effect on you, give them a hug and thank them for their ministry. You may make a pastor’s day! 

Or help save their marriage . . .

Or even their life . . .

Pressing on toward the goal . . .


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