It always amazes me how people perceive pastors. Some hold them high on pedestals, like they can do no wrong; while others hold them in great contempt, like they can do nothing right. Whether you think a pastor is a hero or a zero, we all can agree that there are some significant misconceptions about pastors.
To have healthy churches, we need to guard against unhealthy expectations about our pastors. Eric Geiger, who works for Lifeway Resources, posted a blog about five misconceptions about pastors. I asked him if I could repost it, so here it is.
- They mainly work on Sundays.
“So what do you do, ummm, you know, during the week?” is a question every pastor has been asked. And while Sundays are typically a full day of investing in others, whether preaching or leading in another capacity, they are definitely not the only day pastors work. The burden for people is not something pastors leave at the church building when they go home on Sundays. The role is continual.
- They don’t get “the real world.”
If you lead in ministry, you have likely heard something like, “In the real world, we do it this way,” as if life in ministry is life devoid of the challenges of “the real world.” In reality, ministry leaders daily face the implications of a fallen world. Daily the brokenness of this real world reminds ministry leaders that there is much to do.
- They have it easy.
Pastors in the States don’t suffer like many pastors around the world suffer, specifically pastors in places where the Christian faith brings heavy persecution. But pastors who care for people do not have it easy. In a letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul listed his struggles and sufferings. The list is intense, including five floggings, three beatings with rods, a stoning, and being shipwrecked. He continues…
On frequent journeys, [I faced] dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the open country, dangers on the sea, and dangers among false brothers; labor and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and lacking clothing (2 Corinthians 11:26-27).
But notice how Paul concludes the list of his struggles. It is as if he is saving the greatest burden he would face for an exclamation point type of ending, the crescendo to his list of concerns:
Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? (2 Corinthians 11:28-29)
The burden Paul faced in his concern and love for the church was continual and intense. And this burden was the conclusion to his list of burdens. When leaders continually long for people to encounter the grace of God, ministry is never easy.
- They don’t struggle like others.
I was ordained as a pastor just weeks after I got married, so I have been in ministry my entire married life. When I asked my wife what some common misunderstandings are, all of her answers revolved around this misconception, which means she knows I struggle. She knows, all too well, that I am not perfect, that the Lord is still sanctifying me. Sadly, when people think ministry leaders don’t struggle, they set themselves up for disappointment with those imperfect leaders. We must not place expectations on ministry leaders that can only be met by Jesus—the only perfect Prophet and Priest.
- They have a more direct line to God.
Of all the misconceptions, this one is the most dangerous. The Scripture teaches that all believers are priests—that all believers have full access to God and are honored to serve in His name. When people believe pastors have a closer relationship with God, they fail to appreciate His grace that has qualified them. And they fail to grasp the privilege and responsibility they have to serve others.
BEFORE YOU GO
What would you add to this list? How do you think pastors are misunderstand? Love to hear from you! Also, if you don’t already subscribe to Eric’s blogs, I would encourage you to subscribe to them. https://ericgeiger.com/