Feb 182015 6 Responses

Three Things That Exhaust a Pastor

Exhaustion is not unique to the pastorate. Most professions are wearisome in their own way. One of my greatest pet-peeves is hearing a pastor who whines about his job. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. The pastorate has far more upsides than downsides. (See: The Greatest Perk of the Pastorate)

Yet there are days in which the pastorate is exhausting. There are seasons in which I find myself dragging. Preaching can become a chore. Making a hospital visit can be dreaded. The treadmill of “another Sunday is coming” can be a nightmare.

Like anyone else, I can be exhausted by many things, but I have noticed a common theme which generally occurs when I feel weary.

Here are three things that often exhaust a pastor:

1. My pride.

Most of the times that I’m exhausted, I can directly link my weariness to my own pride. Pastors know the comparison game is useless, but our pride causes us to compare ourselves to others. We compare ourselves to other pastors and other professionals. We compare our churches to other churches.

The numbers game is a never ending treadmill. It can make you feel invigorated when numbers are up, but can destroy you when numbers are down. When I get fixated on numbers I feel myself riding a roller-coaster of emotion and it wears me down.

Over-evaluating my worth and ability is also exhausting. When I think the world can’t exist without me and that everyone needs me, I get worn out.

Nothing exhausts me more than my own pride, which means most of the time I’m tired because I chose to be tired. (See: The Day I Almost Died by Rear-ending a Hearse)

2. Your expectations.

There may not be another job in which so many people have such a drastic expectation of what a leader is supposed to do. Survey those that attend the church and they will list a hundred different things as the top 5 priorities of their pastor.

Although most church members have never done the job, few realize their expectations of the pastor could be wrong. Based on their own experience or upbringing, church members form opinions of what a pastor should do. One expects the pastor to make every hospital visit, while another assumes he will be meeting new prospects in the community, while others believe he should always be in his office in case they call.

Since many pastors are people-pleasers, we live in a dreaded cycle of having too many people to please and very little ability to please any of them. The result is exhaustion. (See: Warning–Objects in the Pulpit Often Appear Holier Than They Actually Are)

3. Everyone’s pain.

If I ever leave the pastorate it will probably be because I’ve grown weary of the pain. At times it is overwhelming.

The great news of the pastorate is that you have hundreds or thousands of people that love you. The bad news is that you have hundreds or thousands that you have to love back. With that wide of a net, someone will always be in pain. To watch someone you love in pain is exhausting.

After twelve years of pastoring in my hometown, I’ve buried a lot of friends. If I pastor here for another thirty years, I’ll bury a whole lot more. The thought of that much loss is frightening.

While I am responsible for my own pride or trying to meet other’s expectations, there is very little which can be done about everyone’s pain. It is part of the pastor’s life. Nearly any attempt to shield myself from the pain would not be effective or healthy. (See: Old Gas Stations, Dry Squeegees, and the Grace of God)

Grief is a defining aspect of the pastorate and pastors simply have to deal with it.

I’m sure there are many other things which create weariness for a pastor. I haven’t even mentioned the stress of raising children, keeping a healthy marriage alive, or physical illness. Yet at this stage in my life, whenever I notice my heart is tired, I can normally tie it back to one of these three things.

What is it that exhausts you in your job?

6 Responses to Three Things That Exhaust a Pastor
  1. Mercy Reply

    Never being left alone. (Can you tell I’m a stay-at-home mom?)

  2. djmdavejohnson Reply

    Great post! I am exploring why I am exhausted by church right now. Doing a log of inward reflection. I serve as an Associate Pastor with my wife. Good words here.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Thank you. I’d be happy to brainstorm with you if you would like to email me.

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  4. […] The pastorate is a privilege. (See: 3 Things that Exhaust a Pastor) […]... kevinathompson.com/greatest-difficulty-pastorate

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