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Bogged Down in Minutiae: The Occupational Hazard of the Pastor’s Daily Existence

Bogged Down in Minutiae: The Occupational Hazard of the Pastor’s Daily Existence

“I feel like I’m being eaten alive by a school of minnows.”

“I felt like I was being stoned to death by popcorn.”

Ask any pastor.

The size of his congregation is immaterial, but my observation is it’s the minister of the medium-sized flock who has it hardest.

The pastor of the tiny church has one well-defined set of jobs and the leader of the mega-congregation another entirely. The first has a few well-defined roles while the latter may have a vast team of helpers so he can put his focus where his gifts are.

It’s the poor pastor in the middle who has little say-so about what he will do today.

The pastor-in-the-middle, that is, the shepherd of the church running a 150 up to 400 or 500 or more, depending on a thousand things including resources and available helpers, will always have more on his plate than he can get to.

This pastor is the administrator of the church. He is the boss of the employees. He gives direction to everyone who works there. He deals with problems and headaches. He is the counselor for the congregation. He is the hospital visitor and does all the funerals and weddings. He is a member of every committee in the church, and as a rule, if he doesn’t call the meeting and attend, nothing gets done. He is the go-to person for every question. He dictates all the letters, or more likely types them himself. He follows up with the visitors and prospects, phoning or visiting them. Meanwhile, he preaches all the sermons and even some of the Sunday School lessons. Add to this one overwhelming fact…

He’s married. He has a wife and children, and they need him. He loves them dearly and is constantly torn because he is not giving them what they need.

Everyone owns a piece of him. Every church member feels he belongs to them and each has a right to call on him. He has no personal time, no days blocked off when he is not available. (And even if he tries to, try that on a congregation where the pastor has ever tried to seclude himself for a day or two a week. Good luck with that.)

The denomination needs him to attend their meetings and sometimes to serve on committees. As a member of the community, he meets with other pastors and leaders from time to time.

His mama needs him. His extended family is calling. Grandpa is in the hospital, Grandma is laid up and unable to look after herself, and the siblings are of little help. So, he’s torn by the younger and the older generation of his family.

He has trouble sleeping because of all the nagging needs which will not leave him alone. When his head hits the pillow, he can think of calls needing returning, sermons needing attention and problems needing addressing. Meanwhile, his wife has been waiting for this time to communicate to the man she loves.

Oh my.

Sound familiar to anyone?

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Joe McKeever has been a preacher for nearly 60 years, a pastor for 42 years, and a cartoonist/writer for Christian publications all his adult life. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.