What your pastor isn’t telling you


Most Lead Pastors come off as having it all under control. Never let ‘em see you sweat right? Nothing could be further from the truth. More often than not it’s more like the proverbial duck that on top of the water looks calm, cool, and collected; all the while under the water his little feet are frantically paddling for dear life. If you’ve never been a Lead Pastor before let me take a moment to help you understand what it’s like to live in their shoes and what often times is going on in their heart. My hope is that you’ll remember these truths the next time you get frustrated and are tempted to become critical of your Lead Pastor. And instead of pouring salt in a wound you’ll be the kind of Staff Member or Church Member who holds your Lead Pastor’s arms up and lightens their load.

1. Your Pastor Feels Overwhelmed by Criticism

People complain about the volume of the music, what I’m wearing, the temperature of the room, that you didn’t visit them in the hospital, that you don’t read from the right version of the Bible, that you’re not deep enough (although they don’t even know the names of their neighbors), that you’re too deep, that I’m in the green room instead of the lobby, that while I’m in the lobby I didn’t say hi to them, that I didn’t remember their name even though I’ve only met them once never hung out with them and have 3,000 other names to know. People complain about other areas of ministry in the Church to them, and even if they handle this well and direct them to see the appropriate Staff Member, it creates a burden for them to carry. I’ve even heard friends of mine who are Pastors talk about having to have security guards follow them around for periods of time due to threats to them and their families. Or I love it when people say now Pastor this isn’t personal BUT…we think if you just did…fill in the blank (it’s not personal but?!!?!?!?). Okay, that might have been a bit of a rant.

2. Your Pastor Feels Pressure from Everywhere

Everybody seems to have expectations for Pastors to live up to and amazingly somehow know God’s will for their Pastor’s life and the Church they’re leading. The Church Body has theirs; the Staff has theirs, the Elders, Deacons or whatever the governance structure is or who the decision makers happen to be have theirs. It comes from all sides. As a result many Pastors I talk to feel as though they’re not only fighting the Enemy, but their fighting the Family as well.

3. Your Pastor Frequently Feels like Quitting

Take a moment to do a quick internet search on “pastor burnout” and the results might shock you. You’ll find pages and pages of articles, statistics, and stories of literally hundreds of men leaving the ministry every single day. Just take a quick look below:

  • CNNMoney.com posted an article listing 15 “Stressful Jobs That Pay Badly.” Included in this list are #5 “Music Ministry Director” and #10 “Minister.”
  • Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.
  • Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
  • Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

I’ve had conversations with Pastors from small churches, mega-churches, multi-site churches, church plants, established churches, contemporary churches, and traditional churches. Somewhere along the road they feel like giving up, some of them have thought about it so much that they even have a fallback plan. Over and over again I’ve heard the statement, “There isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t think about resigning.”

4. Your Pastor is often Confused about the Next Steps the Church should take

Your Church may have a clearly articulated Mission Statement, Values that are actionable, and a clear path and strategy to move people towards maturity but many Pastors still struggle with what next steps the Church should take. I’ve heard Pastor’s say:

“When my office door is closed and no one’s around I often feel confused about what’s next.”

“If God doesn’t show up we’re in trouble because I don’t know what to do next.”

“Here I am at the point of this thing and all of these people are looking to me for where we’re going and there are real moments when I feel like I have no clue where we’re going.”

Posted in Leadership, Staffing

5 Responses to “What your pastor isn’t telling you”

  1. Tony Morris April 24, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Love and appreciate you Paul. Great information. Thanks for sharing.

    Let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you or any pastors you run into that need time off. I’d love to try and help prevent burnout in their lives and ministries by helping them find a place to retreat to and spend quality time alone with God being still and listening, waiting for the Lord’s clear direction and receiving His guidance and rejuvenation.

    Additionally I can help educate their flock and staff leadership of the importance of letting them get away.

    Keep up your great work Paul. You’re one of God’s favorites. 😉

    • Paul Alexander April 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      As always thanks for the encouragement Tony! I love that you’re committed to serving Pastors and caring for their souls! Drop me a contact with how things are going with your ministry to Pastors, I’d love to hear about what’s new!

  2. J. Allen April 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    What kind of pastor has a “green room”? You may want to consider getting out there, training capable young men, helping them plant churches, and emptying out the church that makes you feel like you are entitled to hide in a “green room”. Seriously, guys . . . a “green room”??? This article just made me realize that I was a spoiled rotten pastor who thought that my job should be easy and glamorous, that everyone should love me and give me the praise I so richly deserve, and that I have some right to whine that I am stressed and underpaid. Maybe the title should be what my whiney pastor complains about at lunch with other staff members (paid for by the tithes of the church, of course) while I am at one of my stressful, low-paying, dead-end jobs. I feel better now . . .

    • Paul Alexander April 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      Hey J. Allen thanks for the comments. The intent of the post was simply to let people in on what it’s like on the other side of the desk, that’s all. That pastors are normal people, who have real pressures, anxieties, etc. just like everyone else.

  3. Spencer September 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm #


Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image