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Eight Struggles Pastors Face: A Thanksgiving Story

Pastors are struggling.

Yet most pastors love their ministries and churches; and they are committed to both.

But they still struggle.

I am blessed to hear from pastors in many venues. Indeed, it is a constant stream of information. In the course of a week, I will hear directly from over 300 pastors. Sometimes I ask them questions directly on my blog, in our online coaching community (the Coaching Corner), or on social media.

I also monitor on a regular basis the struggles pastors face. Let me share with you the current reality of eight of the most common struggles.

  1. Leading change. Change has always been rapid, but it is exponentially rapid today. While the truths of the gospel are unchanging, everything else seems to be changing. Many pastors are having a difficult time leading their church members, many of whom are change-resistant, to more effective ministry.
  2. Criticisms and conflict. Though this issue is not new, it has been exacerbated with social media and blogs. It used to be that everyone had an opinion. Today, everyone has an opinion and a forum to share it.
  3. Unrealistic expectations. Every church member has a different set of expectations about what the pastor should do and where the pastor should be. The cumulative effect is that pastors are expected to be omnicompetent, omnipresent, and omniscient.
  4. Time pressure and life balance. Not only do pastors live with unrealistic expectations about their ministries, they have other responsibilities as well, particularly family responsibilities. Bi-vocational pastors also have the time pressures of a second job.
  5. Loneliness and insecurities. Pastors feel pressure to demonstrate they have it all together. To the contrary, many of them feel very alone and deal with insecurities. “It is difficult to have a true friend in the church,” a Colorado pastor shared with us. “I tried one time, and shared confidential issues with him,” he continued. “He broke the confidences and caused me to lose my job.”
  6. Staff issues. Anyone who works with anyone will have these issues. Pastors and staff are not exempt.
  7. Personal finances. Because pastors with excessive lifestyles get media attention, we often fail to consider that the majority of pastors barely get by financially. Personal financial stress diminishes ministry effectiveness and family health.
  8. Church finances. The majority of churches in America are under 100 in worship attendance. Many of these small churches are struggling financially. But the struggles are also present in a number of larger churches. Pastors have the stresses of inadequate ministry funding; and they sometimes wonder if they will get a paycheck.

Pastors, as a rule, would not want others to have a pity party for them. Most of them feel very thankful, very blessed, and wouldn’t consider doing anything else. I had other reasons for writing this post.

First, we need to have an awareness of these realities. Second, we should pray for our pastors daily. And third, let us be thankful for them. The pastors who serve our churches are a blessing and a joy.

They are a true thanksgiving story.

Let me hear from you.

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