Seriously though, ministry leaders, we have to stop airing our grievances like every Monday is Festivus. Ministry, especially pastoring, is for grown ups. There's a biblical command for maturity to be entrusted with leadership in the church, and part of the expectations for pastoral leadership is that they'll be well thought of by those outside the church. That last one is where I believe we can find a direct principle link to how we post and how we talk about our jobs.
I love how Josh calls pastoring a "great privilege and honor." It truly is. It's incredibly humbling to be able to week after week stand and preach. It's even more humbling to be invited into people's lives during their worst (and best) moments. It's an honor when people share about how you have impacted their lives. Those are memories over the years I've treasured, and in many cases kept the cards.
When we complain about our job or about the work/task of ministry, we're doing dishonor to the high calling we've been given. God called you to be a conduit of His ministry and work among His people. It's incredible that God would use any of us to accomplish His work. And work it is. It's hard work. It's time consuming. Sermons don't appear out of thin air. Meetings don't plan themselves. Administration doesn't just fall into place. And developing other people doesn't happen in a microwave. You'll work hard. At least you should. But it's good work because it's the exercise of God's gifting and calling in your life.
It can also build contempt among the church. Can you imagine being in a church where the ministry leaders think everyone is out to get them (and post about it), or who complain about how their ministry obligations keep them super busy? Those church members who hear that are working 40-50 hours a week, balancing family obligations, and on top of that committing to attend and serve in the church. (chances are they don't get Fridays off) On a more pragmatic level, when we complain about the church, not just publicly but privately, we're breeding contempt among the people whose generosity and sacrificial giving enable our livelihood.
Lazy pastors foster a complaining culture. When I was a teenager I worked for my dad off and on in a warehouse. During the summer it'd be 130 on the top floor and I'd leave every day drenched. The complainers were usually the ones putting in the least work. Same principle applies in ministry: busy pastors don't have time to complain. I love how Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 5:16 to make the best use of our time. We don't have long. And we can spend that producing fruit in our ministry, or complaining that we got apples instead of oranges.
Here's what has helped me be more grateful as a pastor: taking 15 minutes every Monday to write 2 thank you notes to someone in our church who helped make Sunday better. Postcards are cheap to send. And it helps me be more grateful for the incredible privilege and honor it is to be a pastor.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.