By Randy and Linda Myers
We are in a series of blogs entitled Ministry Years. Last week we shared two of four challenges we faced during the middle years of ministry: conflict and burnout. These years can be a time of evaluation. Hurts may run deep so we ask, “Do I want to keep doing this?” “Can God still use me?”
Loneliness and expectations are two more areas that ministry families experience.
We want friends to have fun with, to cry with, and laugh with and even share secrets, but there can be an invisible line where each side is cautious. It is tempting to put on a front for fear people might think less of us. Some people tend to put pastors on pedestals and no one wants to fall off of them. The truth is, we don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble so we act out our role and don’t always show our true selves.
We’ve also noticed that people don’t always know how to react to us. When we moved to a new neighborhood, word got around like wildfire that I was a pastor. Neighbors would ask my wife, “Now your husband is a pastor, right?” That was the end of that – a real damper on the conversation. (You would have thought we were running a crack house.)
So, there is the paradox, we want to be regular people and yet we can be very careful about how much we let people into our lives. There are misconceptions about what a pastor is like, and sometimes it’s tough to know how to change people’s view of ministry families. Ministry can be lonely, but some of it is of our own making. It is so important to find a friend. It takes time to build trust and friendship.
Pastors and their families are just normal humans with the same feelings as everyone else. But, sometimes we feel the weight of expectations. Some we put on ourselves and others are imposed on us. We identify with people that are most like us. We understand the perspective of other pastors and wives while our congregation sees things from their point of reference. We have ideas about how we want them to act and church attendees have ideas how they would like their pastor to behave. These expectations don’t always align.
Pastors aren’t perfect but we want people to know that:
- We are trying, really!
- We want to be an encouragement and need encouragement too!
- We aren’t that sure of ourselves.
- We worry people are going to leave
- We take things personally, even though we know we shouldn’t.
We don’t always get it right, don’t always meet the needs of people, but we try to do our best.
BEFORE YOU GO…
We’d love to hear your comments! Have you been lonely in ministry? How do you deal with weight of expectations?
Next week we’ll be addressing the later years of ministry.