Pastoring is hard, but...

Anyone who has ever pastored knows just how tough it can be. Some days it feels like you're down in the trenches and some days it feels like you're running the gauntlet. To coin a phrase (I've said this since the beginning of my ministry days): "The best thing about ministry is people and the worst thing about ministry is people." Sometimes you feel like you've given all you've got but some don't think it's enough. Sometimes you feel spent. Sometimes you feel burnt out. Other days you question your calling or even your faith. Still, at other times you're wondering if it's all worth it. Ministry and pastoring is hard, but...there are those sacred moments; there are those moments that give you hope and seem to say: "it's all worth it".

I had a few of those moments this week. One of them was while making a hospital visit to an ailing congregant. The patient, who has been through a traumatic 3+ years of innumerable surgeries, hospital visits, doctor visits, medicine subscriptions, etc. just broke down in tears. This congregant was very emotional. It was a blessing to share in that moment. But what made it all the more special was when about 8 or 9 family members walked in that I had never met. The congregant wiped the tears, raised up and said with joy and pride "This is my minister." There I was, a 27-year old, young in comparison to this person but they were proud of me, proud to introduce me and proud that I was their minister. I was proud too.

Then, yesterday, one of my favorite things happened: A congregant called to ask me a Bible question. I always love this because it tells me that people are thinking about the faith, their Church, etc. (One of the things I did as soon as I became Sr. Minister a number of years ago was to put up a big banner to the left of the pulpit that reads: A Thinking Church, Growing In Christ, Bringing God Glory". This is embedded in our weekly newsletter that travels all over the United States every week too. Many have really began to believe this statement. Anyways...) This congregant called me from work because a conversation had ensued there about being a "brother's keeper" and what that might mean and even look like today. We talked for a few minutes, I shared some thoughts on the passage and this congregant went back to work, back to the mission field, back to the conversation with confidence. That was a great moment.

Lastly, during another hospital call, I visited the spouse of a congregant who, as far as I know, is an unbeliever. I visited for no longer than five minutes, it was really brief. But as I was preparing to leave, I said: "Well, I just thought I'd stop and say hello and see how you are doing. If you need anything, let me know." The patient replied, "No. Don't need anything. But you just keep doing what you're doing, it's really good." I couldn't help but think as I walked out of that room and on to an elevator that God was working and just how good He is.

As I said, moments like these can never come too often in the ministry. The sad thing is that they come few and far between. However, they are the things that keep me motivated and keep me going. So, for all of you pastors and ministers out there, keep on keepin' on and whenever you get down, just remember, something sacred might be waiting just around the corner for you.


  1. What do you do if that "sacred" moment doesn't come? (even after long waiting)

  2. Anonymous,

    I hope that you do not take my words in the wrong way. I do not know your specific situation but I would say the following:

    1) You can always keep waiting and holding out hope. Perhaps what seems long to us maybe isn't so long to God.

    2) Or Perhaps this is a sign that it is time to move on. Sometimes the toughest thing to realize (maybe because it forces us to be brutally honest with ourselves) is that there are just some people with whom it is nearly impossible for us to have and share sacred moments with. That might sound bad but it is true.