I’ll never forget what a seasoned fundraising consultant said to me soon after I took a job in the development office at a small Baptist college in the late 1980s. “Son, always remember, inside of every college president is a scared little boy.”
His candor and bluntness stunned me, a brand new seminary graduate entering my first full-time ministry position.
Three decades later, I totally get the truth and insight in his statement. Not in the realm of college presidents, however, since I soon moved to church work. I discovered this statement to be equally as true for senior pastors, among whom I’ve served for 27 years. Here are 8 reasons why:
- We enjoy the attention – God has called us to a work that thrusts us into the limelight. And let’s face it, most of us like it there. Inside the church and out in the community, we generally thrive on being noticed and appreciated.
- We’re insecure – Whether it’s that meeting after the meeting in the parking lot or a family that unexplainably stops attending, we’re a paranoid lot. We often think folks are talking about us when we’re the furthest thing from their minds.
- We’re overly emotional – Ministry lends itself to the “touchy-feely” side of life. As pastors, we’ve learned that a little drama gains attention and tugs at heartstrings.
- We want to belong – Whether it’s among denominational leaders, pastors in our area, or guys/families within the congregation, we yearn to be included and accepted as a friend and peer. Oftentimes, though, few take notice, with many keeping us at arms’ length.
- We love to keep score – Most of us still have that competitive spirit that drove us as little boys on the sports field. We’re constantly crunching numbers, searching for sign of success. We obsess, not only with our budget, attendance, and baptisms – but with most of the churches around us as well.
- We’re pleasers –We want to be liked. A few unhappy people eat away at us. Unfortunately, this turns us into enablers, which makes matters worse.
- We can’t take criticism – Among with irritations we deal with as pastors, this is the most difficult one for me to accept. It’s especially hard to receive from those who haven’t “earned the right” by way of faithful service and relationship building.
- We’re bullied – Remember the kid who threatened to beat you up if you didn’t give him your lunch money? He grew up and became chairman of the deacons. I asked someone why this particular man in the church liked to pick on me. “Because he can,” came the reply. As pastors, we sometimes take the brunt of people’s frustrations that often times have nothing to do with the church.
If one or more of these describes you, don’t despair. Referring to children, Jesus said “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14). Such traits issues often put us in a mode of dependence and receptivity. The Lord’s response to our pleas for relief remains, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Maintain that childlike faith as you continue to engage in the Father’s business. He does some of his greatest work through scared little boys.