According to the pastoral statistics that are out there, your pastor is hanging on by a thread. His stress level is at an all-time high and he’s probably wondering if there is anything else he can go do. During this season, the expectations that have been placed on him are more than he can bear.
He does not have the answers on how to handle the pandemic, how to navigate political wars, and alleviate racial tension. He is flooded with messages on how he should be handling it. Some are telling him he is saying too much, while others are saying he’s not saying enough. People have left the church because of the way he has or hasn’t handled this time. Social media is flooded with church and political opinions and the enemy continues to divide.
Don’t forget that your pastor and his family are human beings with real feelings. We can tend to dehumanize them and make them less than human. They are called by God to be shepherds, not solve the world’s problems. I want to remind you of several things about your pastor.
1. Words Hurt Him.
He sees the social media posts and it hurts. If he doesn’t see them, I promise you he hears about them. Social media can be used to build up or to break down. Just in case you didn’t know, there is a human being with feelings on the other side of that post. You are not only deeply wounding your pastor but his wife and kids, if he has them.
I have been appalled at how church members take to social media to bash their pastors. The passive aggressive posts and divisive tweets, in my opinion, are absolutely demonic and ungodly. People do not understand that when they are doing this, they are not only hurting the pastor (and his family) but hurting the bride of Christ. There is nothing beneficial to the bride of Christ when she is bashed. If this is you, you should repent because Satan is using you.
2. He Gets Tired.
This has been a very unique season. Your pastor has had to not only lead through a pandemic but also shepherd the church during racial and political tension. Many don’t understand the emotional and physical toll it has taken on him. He has lost countless hours of sleep. His family life has been impacted. The church has probably lost members and tithes, and he’s wearing all on his shoulders. On top of this he is expected to perform at a high level as he always has. He can’t do it all.
Pastors wear many hats: theologian, CFO, CEO, shepherd, friend, confidant, and the list goes on. He desperately wants to make every meeting, take every phone call, shake every hand, be at every event and hospital visit, but he can’t. It doesn’t mean that he’s a bad pastor or doesn’t care. It just means that he is human and is trying his best to balance out family and ministry.
3. He’s Lonely.
He literally cannot win during this time. There are people on all sides of the spectrum in his church, and no matter what he does, it will be the wrong thing to someone. There simply is no winning, and he’s incredibly lonely. There is a good chance your pastor doesn’t have very many friends. Not because he wants it to be that way. But because betrayal and pain have taught him to be this way.
He desires and yearns for the same thing all of us do: to be known and loved for who he is. But unfortunately, his position doesn’t afford him the space for this kind of community. You may recognize the phrase, “it’s lonely at the top.” Well, it’s true. There are expectations on your pastor that he cannot meet. After feeling like he continues to fail to meet expectations, he has probably found it easier to have a bunch of shallow relationships because he doesn’t have any more blood to spare. It is a very lonely seat.
4. He’s Incredibly Hard on Himself.
The pastor is his own worst critic. More than likely your pastor feels like a failure during this season. He doesn’t know what to do; in fact, no one really does. But nonetheless, he feels like a failure. If you have ever read the stats on pastors then you will know that this is true. The stats show a large percentage of pastors are lonely, depressed, and feel inadequate.
When someone leaves the church, your pastor mentally beats himself up. When attendance is low, he is discouraged. When the tithing is down, he is concerned, and when his sermon doesn’t go as planned, he questions his calling. Then, on top of all of this, your pastor has to deal with emails of people reminding him of these things. I can promise you that he doesn’t need another email reminding him of what’s not going right, he already knows.
5. He wants to be loved.
We all know that church bullies exist, and they seem to speak the loudest. They create cohorts of people groups who withhold their love from the pastor. They think it’s their duty to find out what he’s doing wrong and expose him. The people in the church who are happy are usually quiet because they are happy with the way things are going.
Let me encourage you to let your pastor know that you are happy with him and that you love him. Let his family and children know. He is probably bombarded dealing with the church bullies and is constantly discouraged, so make it your mission to let him know he’s loved. And if you are feeling extra bold, help him out by taking care of some of those bullies.
Church, please continue to fight for unity in a world that is so divided. The world needs to see the church being the church and looking like Christ, not looking like culture.