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10 Secrets of Many Senior Pastors

9. Pastors seldom know whom we can trust, which is why we become guarded and may appear harder to get to know. Most senior pastors have been burned by someone they once trusted. Many senior pastors have seasons where it feels the staff, church leaders and congregation are talking about us behind our back. I’ve been asked more than once how to respond when they walk in a room and conversations suddenly stop.

10. Many senior pastors never really feel off from their work. They struggle without discipline—to enjoy a Sabbath. Sunday keeps coming and there always seems to be one more person to contact. They feel the expectation to be everywhere they are invited and have a hard time saying no, even when it interferes with their family time.

Granted, not every pastor faces each of these (that’s why the title says “many”). These type of things often come in seasons. And, of course, some churches are harder to pastor than others. When these “secrets” are at an extreme, it explains why depression and burnout is common for many senior pastors. And if you need a biblical example of this happening in leadership, see 1 Kings 19.

I came into ministry later in life and so I know how it feels to be a senior pastor, but also to be a leader in the secular world and a non-vocational church leader. I believe that experience has protected me against some of these. But even still, some of these are real for me at times too.

Other pastors, for reasons on this post, will not want you assuming these things about them. In talking with dozens of senior pastors each year, however, I know this is a representative list for “many.”

Senior pastors find joy in our work, and, thankfully, most of us know we are in the center of God’s will vocationally. I don’t intend to take anything away from that in this post. We serve in a called position, so we are doing what we have been asked by God to do.

When I share any post like this, I have come to expect three things. First, someone will email to ask me if I’m OK. I am. Thank you. This is a good season in ministry and I’m serving in a healthy church. Second, I’ll receive a lecture on the need to depend on Christ for these issues, which only further demonstrates my points. Third, there will be someone who will say that these “secrets” are no different from any other person in the church. That may be true, but I can’t speak for everyone else.

Senior pastors are to fully rely on Christ’s strength, as is every other believer. This is just a reminder that we happen to also be like Elijah—”a man just like us” (James 5:17).

Pastors, anyone honest enough to agree?

Please know I’m praying for you as I post this.