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20 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Pastor

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Let’s cut the fluff and get real for a moment. Being a pastor is incredibly difficult.

The church is often guilty of only painting a picture of the wonderful blessings of being called to ministry—like it only gets better day after day.

We somehow forget to talk about the suffering involved. Did we forget, or are we afraid people won’t go into ministry if they know the truth?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are some things we are failing to prepare new pastors for.

Here are some things I wish someone would have sat down and told 20-year-old me. I have spent the last decade learning these the hard way:

Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Pastor

1. It will be the hardest thing you ever do.

No seriously, it is really, really, really hard! Imagine the most difficult thing you have done and multiply it by a hundred. That may be close to how hard ministry is. If you want to be a pastor because it sounds fun or easy, do something else.

2. Integrity and a love for Christ will not be enough; you have to be able to lead people.

Your character and love for Christ are the requirements for entry. These are crucial and more important than anything. However, no matter how godly you are, if you cannot lead people, you will struggle.

3. People will avoid you, and act weird simply because you are a pastor.

People will act one way when you are around, and another when you aren’t. Others will avoid you because you represent God, and they feel guilty. This is why many pastors dread the inevitable question when meeting someone new: “So, what do you do for a living?”

4. People will expect you to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You will get midnight phone calls and texts. Some will be urgent; others can wait. You will have to set boundaries in your schedule because a pastor’s job is never finished.

5. Workaholism will be rewarded, but it will destroy your family.

Pastors who work too much get praises and raises…until their family falls apart. Then we pity them. You will have to choose often between doing ministry and being around for your family.

6. When people stop attending your church, it will hurt.

No matter how awesome you are, some people will leave. It is inevitable. It may have nothing to do with you, but it always feels personal.

7. You will have to fight the urge to compare your ministry to other churches.

You always lose in the comparison game. If you compare to a smaller church, you will feel pride. If you compare yourself to a larger church, you will feel envy. Both are sinful.