Peter Drucker, who spent much of his life studying leadership, said that the four hardest jobs in America are the U.S. President, a university president, a hospital CEO, and a church pastor. Though some might disagree with Drucker’s assessment, I doubt that many of our pastors would. Being a pastor is a high calling, but it is often a great challenge—one that is sometimes made even greater by unrealistic expectations placed upon them.
According to the Barna organization, about 85% of the churches in the U.S. have less than 200 people, 60% have less than 100, and the average size is 89. Even in small congregations, the demands placed on pastors are experienced throughout the day, throughout the week. Pastors are expected to be theologians, Bible teachers, accountants, vision-setters, counselors, public speakers, worship directors, prayer warriors, leadership developers and fundraisers. Given these expectations, I’m sure that those serving as pastors closely identify with what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:
Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken…While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!… So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us (2 Corinthians 4:5-17, The Message Bible).
I want to express my deep appreciation and thanks to all our pastors for all that they do in service to our Lord and his children. My feelings about our pastors are expressed eloquently by Paul in his letter to his coworkers in the church in Philippi:
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now (Philippians 1:3-5, NLT).