This letter is dedicated to every church pastor who has ever felt burned out, been in a ‘funk’ and could not get out, lost the respect of your staff or board, or simply had the passion of your calling to ministry fade away.
Dear Lead Pastor,
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the 1:00 a.m. phone calls that took you away from you family too often. I’m sorry about all the ridiculous expectations the church placed on you for so many years. Having to appear at every single event throughout the year. Making yourself available 24/7 to EVERYONE for absolutely ANYTHING. I’m sorry for all those anonymous ‘I’m displeased with your leadership‘ notes you found under your office door on Mondays. I’m sorry you didn’t receive THANK YOUs and HUGS more often for the compassion you poured into people. I’m so very sorry that your kids witnessed an unpleasant, un-Christlike side of church and ministry while they were growing up. You probably did not get to witness first hand much of the fruit resulting from your ministry either…I’m sorry for that too. I’m sorry that no one in your church really knows what it is like being in your shoes.
I’m sorry the church placed you so high up on a pedestal that it seemed impossible to ever step down. You should have never been put there. That position is reserved for Jesus. He’s the only one who deserves to be there…who can withstand the pressures that exist there…and the only one the church needs to see up there.
In those empty, dry, and lonely seasons…I’m sorry no one in the church offered loving accountability to you. They should have given you a paid and structured Sabbatical. Offering to provide you with the right counseling, or even find you a mentor. Now that would have been helpful. I’m sorry that did not happen.
Pastor, mostly I am sorry that ministry work has put a bad taste in your mouth for the church. As someone who has experienced this with a handful of friends who were pastors, allow me to encourage you. The church is made up of flawed people, therefore, it is flawed. That’s just the way it is going to be until Christ returns. Pastors do not have direct control over the health of their church congregations, staff, and boards. But WE DO have 100% control of our own personal health and leadership.
Have you left the ministry? Or, have you been thinking about stepping out but haven’t quite taken the plunge yet?
Please hear me on this. If there is ANY amount of calling left on your life, stick with it…BUT make some changes. Take charge of leading by example. Be intentional about resting and recharging once a week. Empower others (staff and volunteers) to share the burden of hospital visits, speaking/teaching at small group gatherings and Bible studies, and even leading some team meetings. And for the love of all that is good and meaningful in the world, please find a mentor! Someone OUTSIDE of your church who is spiritually mature and will speak truth into you as a leader, husband, and father.
If the Lord has truly called you to ministry and others around you affirm that calling, then be obedient. The church desperately needs healthy pastors.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. – Galatians 6:9