Monday, February 14, 2011
What I Don't Miss About Pastoring: Insecurity
You wouldn't think pastors are insecure. You'd be wrong.
They all seem so confident standing up there preaching. Proclaiming the Word of God.
Heck, even around other pastors, they're a little arrogant.
I remember once I went to a pastor's conference. We had a breakout session on handling conflict in the ministry. The reason we were all in there was because we were insecure and had "trouble people" in our congregations.
However, the room was filled with Southern Baptist pastors at a pastor's conference. Which, if you've never experienced this, don't want to. Imagine a lot of strong personalities competing to share their advice with the moderator - however, they're in the room because they're insecure with handling conflict.
The moderator began the discussion with, "What is the most difficult occupation in the world?"
I winced. You don't ask a group of pastors that question. Especially a group of pastors gathered to hear a breakout session on handling conflict.
The vocal vote was unanimous - "Pastoring!"
They hadn't realized that the moderator probably disagreed with them, even though he was a veteran pastor. He never said what he thought, but he was gauging his crowd. He wanted to listen to what they would say. And he did. He asked, "Why?"
"Because we do so much! We pray, we visit, and no one understands us! No one understands what we do except other pastors! And people will split the church over the smallest and most insignificant things! And we're underpaid and under appreciated!"
That went on for about five minutes. It's not that I disagree with any of those things, but it was getting ridiculous. Like a Jerry Springer Show.
I raised my hand. He actually called on me.
"I agree it's difficult," I said. "But the initial question was 'toughest job in the world.' While I agree our jobs are hard for us and that we have a higher calling, I don't know if it's the toughest. I think studies show that job would be air traffic controller.
People were frowning. But I continued.
"If the moderator was speaking to a group of doctors and asked the same question, what would they say? They wouldn't say 'pastors.' They'd say 'doctors.' If he was speaking to auto mechanics, steel workers, stay at home moms, construction workers, accountants, CEOs of Fortune 100 companies, they would all think their job was toughest."
A bellicose pastor looked at me and said, "Young man, how long have you been pastoring?"
I said, "Five years."
He said, "Then you just don't know."
I got shut down.
But I did know. I had already been through my fair share of petty arguments, anonymous letters from angry members, dumb statements about my sermons, and people just not "getting it" that I was in the same boat all those other pastors were in.
I was insecure.
Strange thing, most pastors don't know how insecure they are. They'd like to think that they're strong, but they don't know how weak they are.
We feel almost invincible behind the pulpit, but when we step down, we're weak. We're hurt when church members criticize us. We wonder what people are saying about us.
You'll say, "You shouldn't worry about what people say." I wish it were that easy. And I'm sure some pastors don't have that problem. But most do. And it's very difficult.
I'm not even talking about being a "people pleaser" (hate that term). I'm not talking about running a ministry so that people won't complain. If you're doing things right and by the Word, people will complain.
No, I'm just talking about having a tender heart as a pastor. One where there's always two or three people who don't like anything you do. They're going to hate everything you do and criticize you even if you were one of the Twelve.
People always said, "You can't let them get to you." For long periods of time, it wouldn't. But after a while, it finally would.
Your pastor is most likely strong most of the time, but even he has moments of insecurity. Build him up. Support him. Don't let him falter. Don't be someone who finds something to complain about all the time.
When you hear people complaining, ask, "Is it really something worth complaining about?" and "Do we need to bother the pastor about it?" and "Can we stop complaining and just fix the darn thing?"
Above all, pray for your pastor's heart. If you or someone in your church has a history of abrasiveness with him, fix it. Don't let it linger. Be of one mind.
Make it so when he goes to a pastor's conference and someone asks, "What's the hardest job in the world?" he replies, "It's not mine."