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Pastor: No Whining, Please!

If you get a group of pastors together in a room, or leaders of ministry teams, you will often hear complaints. Complaints about working with certain volunteers or staff members, budget cuts, financial difficulties, recruiting, or simply the pace and difficulty of ministry and leadership.

This is a good and appropriate place to share those things.

Often, though, I’ll hear pastors or ministry leaders share these same complaints with their churches or people who are not in leadership.

Bottom line, one of the things that separates leaders from non-leaders is leaders are not whiners.

Is leading hard?


Did you sign up for it?


Did you know leading would be this hard?


Does that matter?


Mainly, I’ll hear leaders talk about how difficult their job is. In fact, one of our staff members recently visited another church, and the lead pastor spent 20 minutes (20 minutes!) talking about how hard being a pastor was and how hard planting a church was.

Now being a pastor is hard. Starting a church is hard. Recruiting people, managing people, conflict resolution, budgets, family life and ministry life colliding are all hard.

But if you are a pastor, hear this: Your life is not harder than anyone else’s. Your job is not harder than anyone else’s. It’s just different. Being a pastor is not the hardest job on the planet; it’s just different.

Think for a minute about most church planters and pastors: They have lots of meetings. The people in their church don’t know if they are at Starbucks working on a message, chatting with a leader, reading a book or a blog (thanks for reading this one), working on fantasy football, or taking a nap.

Is pastoring hard? Yes. Is it harder than being a plumber? No.

It’s different.

When you as a leader whine about how hard it is, your people roll their eyes and lose respect.

When you as a leader talk about how hard it is to raise money, gain support for a vision or recruit volunteers, you lose their respect. People are attracted to a vision.

Take kids’ ministry. There is always a shortage of team members in kids’ ministry. You could bemoan that fact, or you could cast a compelling vision to people: Most people begin a relationship with Jesus before they turn 18. In fact, if you think about your life, you are still feeling the effects of the choices you made before you were 18. What if you could make an impact for good in the life of a child or student? Steer them away from the mistakes you made and help them find the life God has called them to? Wouldn’t that be awesome?!

Sign me up.

We’re a portable church, so we have to set up and tear down, and no one likes that job. What if instead of complaining about it, you saw the opportunity to cast a vision: Did you know every week a guest comes to our church, and many of them come because they drove by and saw a sign? Think about how God works. That’s amazing. Not only that, when we set up chairs, we don’t just set up chairs. We pray over each of those chairs as we set them up. When I put a Bible on that seat I’m praying for the person who will sit there and maybe for the first time will hear about Jesus and the life he offers. We don’t just set up chairs. We put a chair down so someone can sit down and hear about the life Jesus died and rose from the dead to give them. You can set up chairs anywhere, but we’re part of helping people hear about Jesus. Do you want to do that? I can’t think of a better way to spend my Sunday morning than praying for guests who will hear about Jesus. Can you?

Is it hard? Yes. Do people say yes when you vision cast? Not all the time.

If leadership was easy, everyone would do it.  

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Josh Reich is the lead pastor of Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ, the author of Breathing Room: Stressing Less & Living More & is passionate about helping people not settle in life and miss all that God has for them.