Home Worship & Creative Leaders Articles for Worship & Creative Should Pastoring Be THIS Hard? 4 Techniques to Survive and Thrive

Should Pastoring Be THIS Hard? 4 Techniques to Survive and Thrive

With that in mind, I’ve assembled a short list that has helped me make the task of pastoring less burdensome and far more joyful.

1. Stop being a martyr.

Many of us work ridiculous hours in ministry, and not always because we need to, or even because others expect it of us. Many of us just have this desperate need to be everyone’s hero. Much of the reason our task is harder than it should be is that we’re doing a lot of jobs we shouldn’t be doing.

As I said earlier, I’m convinced that many pastors like hearing that our job is hard. We thrive on it.

Yes, martyrdom is sometimes considered one of the spiritual gifts, but I’m pretty sure Paul was talking about the kind of gift you only get to use once—not the gift that keeps on giving.

Much of that martyr syndrome comes from guilt. We feel guilty if we’re not doing everything for everyone. But no church can get healthy, and no pastor can stay healthy, that way.

Instead, we need to let a lot of tasks go. And the best way to do that is …

2. Start making disciples.

If a church can’t run without the pastor doing everything, it isn’t healthy. And neither is its pastor.

No, it’s not easy to make mature disciples. And you don’t get a church filled with them in a week, a month or a year. It’s likely to take a decade or more of hard work. It took longer than that for me and my church.

But it will never happen if we don’t do the primary job Jesus gave us to do as pastors. Matthew 28:19“>Make disciples. Ephesians 4:12“>Prepare God’s people to do ministry.

I know it often seems like it’s easier just to do certain jobs yourself. And in the short run, it usually is. But in the long run, it will ruin you—and cripple your church.

Jesus sent the 72 disciples out before they were fully prepared. They didn’t even realize that Luke 10:20“>salvation mattered more than signs and wonders.

But going out two-by-two, doing the best they could, then meeting back with Jesus for an assessment of the task was an essential part of learning to do ministry themselves. And it was central to Jesus’ discipleship process.

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Karl is the author of four books and has been in pastoral ministry for almost 40 years. He is the teaching pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, a healthy small church in Orange County, California, where he has ministered for over 27 years with his wife, Shelley. Karl’s heart is to help pastors of small churches find the resources to lead well and to capitalize on the unique advantages that come with pastoring a small church. Karl produces resources for Helping Small Churches Thrive at KarlVaters.com, and has created S.P.A.R.K. Online (Small-Church Pastors Adapt & Recover Kit), which is updated regularly with new resources to help small churches deal with issues related to the COVID-19 crisis and aftermath.