Here’s what I mean by a “struggling pastor.”
‘Get the picture?
Here’s what he doesn’t need:
A new church
I need to be careful here. Maybe he doesneed a new church. It’s just possible that he’s serving in an impossible place with an impossible group of people.
Some pastors are struggling because they have a healthy passion to lead churches that are actually making disciples but are serving congregations which are asleep at the wheel and have no desire to be awakened.
The struggling pastor who feels that he needs a new church needs to handle this concern very carefully. He needs to read some good books, articles and/or blog posts about pastoral transitions and pray like crazy for wisdom.
He also needs to sit down with a trusted friend or advisor and talk this through carefully. The trusted friend should not be a church member. Too many pastors seeking such counsel from church members find themselves walked to the door by individuals who see an opportunity to replace a cranky pastor with a new, cheerful one.
More hobbies or outside interests
Again, I need to be careful. Some pastors doneed a hobby, an outside interest or an outside ministry. They are imbalanced, burned out and no fun.
But other pastors are struggling for reasons which have nothing to do with being imbalanced, or burned out. They’re not getting “strokes” from their churches, so they turn to organizations or causes outside their congregations where they feel appreciated.
This is not healthy and doing more of the same isn’t going to improve matters. In many situations the pastor is only digging his hole deeper by neglecting his ministry and its problems.
Another vacation or sabbatical
We all need vacations. God graciously built them into the Law of Moses. Sabbaticals are a wonderful trend in the church today.
But struggling pastors aren’t usually helped by another vacation or sabbatical. They need to uncover the real issues and deal with them honestly.
A friend once told me, “Don’t go on vacation when you desperately need it. You won’t enjoy it anyway. Learn to live in such a balanced and healthy way that you don’t become desperate for the next vacation.”
Loyalty to our leaders is a good thing. But loyalty can easily be warped and twisted into something unhelpful.
When struggling pastors become ugly pastors – and it happens easily – those who love them the most need to affirm their love and loyalty while speaking the truth to them about their short tempers, impatience or crabbiness.
When your secretary and your wife are both telling you that you’re burned out – and yes, this did happen to me – they’re almost always right.
A new program
Some pastors and churches really do need a new program. Generally speaking though, a new program is not going to be the solution. If what you want is a “Band Aid” solution, a new program will probably do just fine.
Another seminary degree
No, I’m not against pursuing seminary degrees. Nor am I against pursuing advanced degrees while in the pastorate.
The problem that I’ve seen however, is struggling pastors, pursuing advanced seminary degrees, instead of addressing the issues in their ministries and churches.
Once again the result is only a worsening of the problems the pastor is trying to escape from.
Struggling pastors need real help from real friends to help them find real solutions to their real problems.