There are many problems with being a pastor. It is a difficult job, with amazing levels of stress. Although genetics and eating habits have played a part, my own hair loss, hair graying and weight gain in the last few years have been exacerbated by the stress I’ve had as a pastor. I can see why the drop out rate for pastors is so high and why the Bible urges “not many of you” to do this.
On many levels I feel called to be a pastor, and on many levels I feel like I’ve chosen this as a career path. Some days I’ve pastored because I love Jesus and people, and other days I’ve pastored because it’s my career and I was getting a paycheck. Sometimes I wanted out and sometimes my motivations for wanting to be a pastor have more to do with finances than they do with love for those in my care. It’s the reality of the position.
One of the problems with being a pastor is that when you make a mistake you hurt people. There is no two ways around this. You will either be the most loved or the most hated person in the room. For me, I know people that love me and trust me as a pastor and then I know those who wouldn’t trust me to watch their dog for the weekend even if they hated their dog. I have people I’ve helped and people I’ve hurt; some of them I’ve hurt deeply.
I know there are Bible verses that tell me that I am held to a higher standard and harsher judgment for how I treat those in my care. My job as a pastor is to know, lead, feed and protect the flock from all sorts of dangers. In some ways, by God’s grace, I’ve had success in all of these areas. In all ways I need God’s grace to cover the huge mistakes I’ve made.
I know I have sinned in the following ways; however, I don’t know all those whom I’ve sinned against. As you read this list, see if I’ve sinned against you in any of these or other ways.
Sin of passivity. I have allowed people to continue in their sin when Jesus has asked me to confront. I cower out of fear of man, just wanting to be liked or well thought of. There have also been times when I cared more about my own comfort than about other people’s holiness, and being passive was my sinful way of dealing with it.
Sin of aggression. This sin is one that I am deeply aware of, yet it’s left a field of carnage that I’m scared to actually see. My bold words and actions have gotten me into trouble a lot over the years, and when you combine my bold and some-times harsh words with the level of authority that God has given the position I’m in, it makes it especially hard to deal with. I’ve oftentimes sworn to make my point clearer. Oftentimes I’ve told people the sins that I see so clearly in their life when I should have led them in gentleness and allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal it to them. I’ve raised my voice out of frustration. I’ve had body language that condemned people for even talking to me. I lean towards aggression, and although I strive for gentleness I do not always meet the mark of that. There are those who come to mind even as I write this, and it brings tears to my eyes knowing that there are so many of you.
Sin of control. I’ve had an overestimation of my authority as a pastor. I’ve used the title at times to tell people what to do as if I had some biblical grounds for this. I’ve instructed people as if I’m the final voice in their life. I’ve held on too tightly to what is not mine and this is control. Some of you have seen me do this. Some of you may have only wondered if I was trying to do this, but I have done this and I regret it.
I want to be in ministry for a long time to come. I want to do so with health and humility, meeting the biblical qualifications for an elder. If you believe I’m unqualified to be a elder, I’d love to apologize to you and ask for your forgiveness. By God’s grace maybe there will be healing for both of us and you can help reveal some blind spots that I have in my life. Please email me at email@example.com and start a discussion with me. I don’t want to justify my mistakes to you; I want to repent. I want to make amends for hurts that I’ve caused in my first years of ministry. I want God’s grace for both of us. If Jesus gave His life for you and I, I’m hoping this isn’t too much to ask