After many years as a youth pastor and senior pastor, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Part of that process involved being honest about what I truly wanted, which made me wonder if more pastors don’t have these secret desires, too. Here’s my humble list of three things every pastor secretly wants:
1. A Best Friend
For a period of a few years, I was a conference junkie—I even kept the lanyards hanging on the back of my office door. After a while, I realized that most conferences were the same and started pursuing coaching relationships. I learned that I could pay money to have people who were getting it done mentor me and show me how to reach the next level. While this was a step in the right direction, it still fell short.
Coaching is greater than conferences. But friends are greater than coaches.
I didn’t have a best friend in ministry, and that wasn’t anyone else’s fault but my own. Sure, I had people who wanted to learn from me, and I had people who said they wanted me to let them in, but I was skeptical.
More than anything, I’m convinced that what pastors need is what pastors want. Not a fake system of accountability that keeps up appearances, but a real friend or two who could handle any amount of crap. If a pastor is struggling with something, he needs to talk to someone that can’t fire him. He needs someone who will get in his face but not throw him out on the street. That’s a friend.
2. Financial Security
I believe there’s something in the heart of a man that wants to provide for his wife and children. And answering the call of God to communicate the Gospel or lead a church doesn’t erase that deep desire to love, protect and provide.
My first full-time job in ministry was in South Florida, and I made less than a public school teacher. That was fine for a youth pastor with no kids, but once I had a family, it wasn’t going to work. Sadly, that meant no longer working at that church. And for the next 10 years, I scraped by, earning enough to live a comfortable life but setting aside nothing for retirement. I was able to travel and attend conferences, but my wife and kids missed most of that.
I secretly wanted to be a better provider for my family. I wanted the freedom to send my kids to a good summer camp (not just the free VBS), and I wanted to buy my wife some new furniture for the house. I never went into ministry at the age of 18 to make a lot of money, but there were times when I didn’t want it to be so dang hard.
I want some pastors to earn a little more money so they can make decisions on what’s best for the church and what’s best for their family, not what’s necessary for their survival.