Most of us see our pastors on Sundays telling funny stories and explaining important principles. As we watch them listening, reassuring, and welcoming, it’s easy to assume they have it all together. Some of us see a little behind the scenes, but few of us really know our pastors. And few pastors really feel known.
This is partly because the work of a pastor is unlike any other work. It is a vocation, a calling upon their whole life, requiring complete engagement. Even when pastors are resting, it has something to do with their work. And while pastors are working, they do a huge amount of resting in God.
An Impossible Job
The role of a pastor shouldn’t be entered into lightly. David Hansen, author of The Art of Pastoring, knew being a pastor was an “impossible” task for him, so his prayer was, “Lord, being a pastor is impossible, so if you will be with me all the way to help me, I will be a pastor.” But unlike Hansen, many pastors don’t realize how impossible their work is until they’re deep into it.
Even the most transparent pastor knows that it’s inappropriate to share themselves fully. But when they do share in a healthy way, some things still remain theirs alone to carry. As a result, pastors often feel lonely.
In an effort to break through that pastoral loneliness, I’ve asked various pastors to share behind the scenes of their lives and work. Here are some things they said they’re not telling their church members.1