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10 Secrets of Many Senior Pastors

6. Senior pastors face the same temptations and occasional spiritual dryness as everyone else. This means we need accountability, but are often afraid to seek it.

7. The pastor’s spouse is sometimes the loneliest person in the church and often feels extreme pressure to live up to unrealistic expectations. Pastor’s children also feel the weight of expectations from the church. Many have told me they feel everyone is “watching” them.

8. The pastor, too, can experience loneliness—sometimes severely. The encounters through this blog with some senior pastors have revealed that some pastors have no true friends either inside the church or outside.

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.”