Editor’s Note: After more than three decades as a youth, mission, solo and senior pastor, Dr. Smith wanted to make sure those who are in discipleship today understand the challenges of stepping up to the accept the position and work of pastoral ministry. He finds this article accurate and sobering.
The blessings of ministry far outweigh the realities below; however, ministry is definitely not easy. Don’t waste your time and money going to seminary or college for pastoral training if you are not prepared for the negative aspects of ministry mentioned below. Furthermore, always remember that God has called you to love His church, not merely His mature church, but His immature church, as well. Moreover, a call to ministry is a call to bleed.
If you enter pastoral ministry …
10. Not everyone will like you.
9. You will make people angry regardless of how godly you handle yourself; it comes with the position.
8. You will feel like a failure often, and when you do appear to succeed, the fruit that is produced cannot be accredited to you. God alone gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7). Thus, there is little “sense of accomplishment in ministry” that you may be accustomed to in other vocations.
7. You will fight legalism and liberalism, along with laziness, ignorance, tradition and opposition. Yet, your greatest enemy will be your own heart (Jer. 17:9).
6. Not everyone will respond positively to your preaching, teaching or leadership. You will bring people to tears with the same sermon: one in joy, another in anger (I have done this).
5. You will be criticized, rarely to your face and frequently behind your back. This criticism will come from those that love you, those that obviously do not like you, and pastors and Christians that barely know you.
4. You will think about quitting yearly or monthly, if not weekly or even daily.
3. You will be persecuted for preaching the truth, mostly from your brothers and sisters in the pews. You shouldn’t be surprised by the sight of your own blood. You’re a Christian, after all (Matt. 16:24).
2. You will feel very lonely on a consistent basis, feeling like no one truly knows you or cares how you feel, because you do not want to burden your family, and trustworthy peers are few and far between. Because of the ”super-Christian” myth accredited to pastors, literally, you will find it extremely difficult to disclose your deep thoughts and feelings to others. Thus, you will struggle with loneliness.
1. You will probably pastor a church that is barely growing (if at all), is opposed to change, doesn’t pay well, has seen pastors come and go, doesn’t respect the position as biblically as they should, doesn’t understand what the Bible says a pastor’s or a church’s jobs are, and will only follow you when they agree with you (thus, they’ll really only follow themselves).
After understanding these realities, do you still want to be a pastor? If so, then God has probably called you to the ministry!