Walking in Our Pastors’ Shoes
As we enter into Honor Pastors’ Month, let’s appreciate the tireless effort and the labor of love that our pastors have shown us.
By Julie Teo
It is an honor to serve God in the highest of calls. When someone tells us they’re going into full-time ministry, we congratulate them for being obedient. Yet, how many of us can say the same if the call was on us? I’m sure we would have to stop and really think of the extent of the demand it places on our lives.
A 24/7 profession
Being a pastor is probably the most demanding and stressful job in the world. The work is large, intense, and challenging. Hours are long and erratic.
They may be conducting a funeral in the morning, officiating a wedding in the afternoon, and counseling someone in the evening. Sometimes they are woken up in the middle of the night to talk to someone with suicidal thoughts.
On their day off, they may be casually walking around a mall when they chance upon a member who gleefully approaches them and then spends the next 45 minutes sharing their problems. It may be their day off, but when are they really off?
While we expect people to respect our off-days, a pastor who does not attend to calls for help on their off-day gets criticized. There is an expectation that they are on call 24/7.
Pastoring is physically and mentally tiring, filled with emotional ups and downs. The weight of the ministry is great and its demands can take a toll on their body, mind, and spirit. Are we mindful of it?
The first on the frontline
Pastors are subject to attacks from the enemy, just as we are. And being in the spiritual frontline means they face a constant barrage of spiritual attacks.
Misunderstandings. Convenient criticism. Conflicts and disagreements. These are just some of the weapons the enemy uses against them. When hit from all sides, it’s not surprising that pastors can get burned out. Some even walk away from their calling.
The reality is that we often overestimate their abilities. We expect our pastors to be strong all the time, assuming that they have the answers to all our problems. And when they “fall short,” we feel let down, disillusioned, and surprised. Are we mindful of our expectations?
The fishbowl life
It is said that pastors live in a fishbowl – a life under constant scrutiny. One wrong move or one bad decision can be viewed glaringly out of proportion. Pastors are afraid to share their heart, lest they be misunderstood. The job is soul-achingly lonely.
Their families are not spared either. Their spouse and children also live under constant scrutiny and the pressure to be “perfect.”
The reality is that pastors and their families are just as human as we are. They have their own cares and challenges too. They experience anger and frustration.
Married pastors have disagreements with their spouses.
Pastors who are parents might have prodigal children.
Pastors (married and single) have families and aged parents to care for.
Pastors are not perfect people. They are just like us. But even if they have had a quarrel before coming to church, they still wear a smile on their face when they reach God’s house.
When we interact with them, we have no clue that they may have just experienced something unpleasant. And if they don’t show a happy face, we judge the pastor for being “proud.”
When we fail, we expect our pastors to understand and love us. Do our pastors know that they can fail and still be loved?
Love through honor
Pastors don’t get things right every time. And pastors are often afraid to share what’s on their heart, lest they be misunderstood. But if we put on our pastor’s shoes, how would we like to be treated?
In light of all this, what should our response be? Do we sit and watch? Compare and criticize? Judge and condemn? Or do we choose to love and support them?
October is the time where we are called to honor our pastors. Let’s consider how we can show our love and support. Let’s consider tangible ways to honor their calling and appreciate their selfless service.
Reflect & Respond
Think of a time when a pastor walked you through a challenging time. How did their support mature your faith?
How will you bless your pastors during Honor Pastors’ Month?