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7 Hard, but Hopefully Helpful Words for Pastors

By April 9, 2018Church, Leadership

This is for all my pastor friends. It may not make as much sense to readers who haven’t served in that role.

One thing that sets me apart from some pastors is the amount of time I spent in the business world is greater than the time I have been in ministry. It has given me a unique perspective.

It’s also helped me realize I didn’t understand the unique pressures of ministry completely until I was in ministry. It’s made me want to encourage pastors whenever I can. That’s the point of this post.

Here are 7 hard, but hopefully encouraging words:

You aren’t promised church growth – Check the Scriptures for examples, but I’m not sure you’ll find anything. You’re promised ultimate victory, but not immediate success. I do believe a healthy church is a growing church – either externally or internally. It’s producing more disciples, but you may be there for a season of preparation for future growth some other pastor will realize. You may be used to grow people who will leave to bless others. It doesn’t always seem like glamorous work when numbers aren’t going up as fast as we’d like, but it’s necessary work.

Be careful not to fall into the comparison trap with other pastors or churches. God uses all of us uniquely. You would tell your church every volunteer role is important. So is every position to which God has called His servants.

You’ll never please everyone – And, you’ll destroy yourself and your ministry trying. That’s true regardless of how how much you want to make people happy. You can say what you think people want to hear and do what they want you to do and you still won’t make everyone happy.

It’s better, therefore, just to do the right thing following God’s direction, and not worry as much about making people happy. This doesn’t mean you don’t listen to people, and there is never an excuse for arrogance or tyranny, but remember your calling is to make people disciples not entertain them.

Your call is bigger than your assignment – And, it’s a good thing. Your call is to a person. THE PERSON. The person of Jesus Christ. God calls us to tasks, which give Him glory. If it’s easy for us we can take credit.

This is another reason not to worry about how big or small your current assignment is.

People are talking about you – Let’s just be honest about it. It’s not just a feeling you have. They are. And, that’s not always a bad thing. I can’t tell you how many times recently I’ve walked up on conversations about my new granddaughter.

The reality is you are an influencer in their life, hopefully, and that naturally stirs conversation – good and bad. Don’t be as concerned about people talking about you as you’re concerned about your heart and character being obedient to God.

Your priority isn’t always other people’s perceived priority for you – People want you to do what they think you need to be doing – and what they want you to do. That’s natural. Of course, the problem is the number of competing expectations in the church. You can never convince some people you have responsibilities beyond their individual needs. And, that’s okay. You can’t understand everything in their world either.

Just stay true to your purpose. Honor God with your time and give Him glory. Work for the pleasure of One and you’ll be fine.

People don’t love your family as much as you do – I’m not saying they don’t love your family. I’m sure they do. But, their wants (and demands) will sometimes trump their love for your family. That’s human nature too. It means if you want to protect your family and your time with them – it’s up to you and not them. Love your church. Love them well. That’s your responsibility, but in the process remember only you can love your family the way they deserve to be loved.

Your greatest reward is yet to come – You may not always hear how good a job you are doing. They may not always post “excellent, life changing message” on your Facebook wall. But we shouldn’t live for that either. If we do it makes us very ineffective and causes pride to get in our way.

Some days you’ll wonder if you’re making headways at all. But, remember, your greatest rewards will be the ones for which you wait longest. And, if you are faithful – if you’re obedient – your future reward is going to be amazing. How could it not be coming from our amazing God?

Pastors, I love you. Praying for you. Let me know if I can help.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Marko Henry says:

    Really good article. Thanks

  • Erick Totanes says:

    Thank you for sharing this Pastor Ron, very timely for me. God bless you!

  • Brad Gilbert

    I moved within the last year to a town of less than 2k after spending my whole life in metropolitan areas, and it is difficult knowing that do many are talking about you. Trying my best to learn that not everyone will like everything I say/do.

  • AimeeHeart says:

    I'm pastoring a church in the Philippines with 300 members/congregation, rearing leader of leaders, and running 8 years of handling it i may say that the above mentioned encouraging words were true. Thanks that I visited and read your blog and its God's timing to help me out with the struggles im currently experiencing. Shalom!

  • Tanya Adams says:

    God bless you! I love these words of wisdom. My husband and I are new Pastors. After reading this article, we will apply these spiritual nuggets to our lives.

    Thank you,
    Pastor Tanya M. Adams

  • Janice Hill says:

    Thank you!!

  • betty braddy says:

    I'm an ordained elder in the PCUSA. I was taught that was to minister as much as a pastor. I've done as I've believed for 40+ years. I KNOW what you're saying. So very true. Never can please everyone so keep focused on THE ONE. Sometimes that has been really tough. Sometimes there has been great joy. I'm in one of those funk times now and am trying to discern HIS leading to what I'm suppose to be doing. One of these days I'll see clearly. God is Good always.

  • Pastor Ray Lindsey says:

    Regardless of the size of your congregation learn to keep your focus small. Size has nothing to do with it, even Jesus only started with a dozen. It only took One Man to minister to Billy Graham and look what that has accomplished for God.
    Stay small

  • @kwdumas says:

    Wonderful reminder that being a pastor is all about following Jesus and leading others as far as they are willing to go in that direction. Being a pastor is not an audition for some TV reality show.

  • stevewhip says:

    Thanks Ron! Great reminders. I've experienced all…sometimes at the same time!

  • Tress says:

    Beautiful and needed. Pastoring can be more brutal than I ever imagined and yet the victories and the glory to God are always before my eyes.

  • Keith Glover says:

    Thanks Ron, for this post! My heart breaks for those pastors who are struggling and under heavy burdens….and of all the stats on this issue, my heart breaks most for the one that says that 70% of all pastors say they don't have a close friend they can talk to (other than their spouse). That's the reason I have, even thought I'm not a great blogger like you…I meet one on one with many pastors and church staff to encourage them as they minister to others.
    May God bless you for all you do to encourage Pastors and may you be encouraged as well that your blog is being used by God to help others.