Death by Ministry

Finally, at the age of 39, I feel more at peace at how to create boundaries, love my church, better care for my wife and children, support my fellow staff, handle criticism, etc. but there are times, I feel clueless and overwhelmed. I’ve been having occasional visitors from a blog started by and for pastors’ wives [couldn’t find one for pastors’ husbands]. Some of their comments have been difficult to read because they hit so close to home. I will not post a link to their blog here, but here are two comments:

“Oh, and the financial part is tough. We live on poverty level. I don’t know how we are going to pay all the bills sometimes, much less buy groceries. The Lord always comes through, though, and on a really tough week, someone in the church will anonymously give us a gift. We have no in between at our church. It’s either people trying to help us out (it’s all there what we make each week – in black and white), or it’s people that have this attitude – ‘Pastors are supposed to suffer and sacrifice. It’s part of the job.’ Has anyone else noticed that mentality? I don’t know where it comes from, and it is one of my biggest pet peeves. Pastors aren’t supposed to drive nice cars, have nice houses, or buy new clothes. And we are always supposed to be worried about making ends meet – I wonder if it is just half of my church that thinks that way.”

Here’s the second comment:

“Today my son approached my husband and randomly said, ‘I guess you’re going back to church now.’ And he wasn’t going anywhere! During seminary, he would walk around the house saying, ‘Bye bye, Daddy. Bye bye, daddy!’ So sad, but very true. It’s definitely a calling, isn’t it? I told my husband the other day: ‘In my classes that I took to prepare me to be a minister’s wife, they told me over and over again, ‘it is the loneliest job in the world,’ but I never realized it until we were in the role…'”

While I feel solid support from my staff, my elder board, and the church as a whole, I know that many of my peers do not feel this way.

Simply, pastors are often underpaid, underappreciated, and at times, undermined.

There is strain on their marriages and families. Two other incredibly real factors that add complexities to the ministerial calling are: 1) the cultural complexity and dynamic of the 21st century and 2) the nebulous but real nature of the spiritual realm and battle. The reality is that being a pastor is not just merely a job nor should it be one. Ministry is a calling. It’s both amazing and incredibly difficult. While it isn’t my desire to overdramatize the significance of ministry, I do believe that the Evil One seeks to impede and harm the work that is to take place through ministers and pastors.

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eugenecho@churchleaders.com'
Eugene Cho is the co-founder (with his wife) and executive director of One Day's Wages — "a movement of People, Stories, and Actions to alleviate extreme global poverty." He is also the founding and lead pastor of Quest Church and the founder and executive director of Q Cafe — a non-profit community cafe and music venue in Seattle. Follow Eugene on Twitter or his personal blog.