Ministers are human beings :: Warren Wiersbe
Ministers are human beings, made of dust, subject to the same forces that discourage and destroy the men and women who sit in the pews. For some reason, many church members have the idea that their pastor is exempt from personal pressures and problems-or that he has a secret system for overcoming the difficulties of life and ministry. He does not.
The tragedy is not that pastors collapse, bum out or even fail. The tragedy is that too many sincere Christian workers bring these things on themselves. How? By failing to detect, identify and deal with the elements that make up the "formula for frustration." Here they are:
1. Unreachable goals. Now that secular management principles have invaded the church, everybody is talking about goals. Fine; we need goals. As the Latin proverb says, "When the pilot does not know what port he is heading for, no wind is the right wind." Substitute the word "pastor" and the message is clear.
But goals must be sensible and reachable; otherwise, we only tempt God. If you determined this year's goals after listening to a super-pastor at a conference, give serious thought to revising them. If you measure your ministry on the basis of unreachable goals, you are bound to give up or become impossible to live with - or both!
2. Unmanageable schedules. You can't attend every meeting, make every visit, speak at every special occasion, read every book, hold every office or solve every problem. Find out what God wants you to do, assign the rest to others - and learn how to say "No!" It will shock folks at first, but before long they will get the idea, and they will appreciate the fact that you have priorities.
Make a list of the things you as pastor must do, and schedule regular time for these tasks: your personal devotional life, family time, study, sermon preparation, administration and so on. Try to do your vital sermonic "spadework" two weeks in advance, just in case there is an emergency. (There usually is.) When you find yourself fighting time, you know you have put too much on the calendar and you cannot do your best.
3. Uncomfortable situations. We all have them! The best approach is to take to heart the words of Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr: "God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change things I can and wisdom to know the difference." Amen and amen!
Sometimes it's good to have a blind eye and a deaf ear and not take too seriously what some people in the church say and do. This does not mean we are careless in our pastoral work; it only means we don't try to use a cannon to kill a flea. If you take too personally what people say, you will become a nervous wreck. Many of these people will not change - and they will act the same way toward the next pastor! It isn't your fault. Stop feeling guilty.
In time, some people and situations will start to change. Never give up! A friend used to say to me, "Just preach and pray and plug away!" Excellent counsel - and it works!
4. Unbearable problems. The younger minister sometimes has a "messianic complex." He has to solve every problem and do it immediately. Then he learns that solving some problems is like unscrambling eggs or loading mercury with a pitchfork. Yes, God often graciously does the impossible, and we simply stand by in awe. But when that doesn't happen, what does the pastor do?
He walks and works by faith and leaves the consequences with God. He does not measure his ministry by the number of success cases in his files. He accepts the sad fact that some folks don't want their problems solved; they need their problems to give them a feeling of importance. Jesus could not do many miracles in Nazareth, His hometown, because the people would not believe. Where does that leave us?
George Morrison has said that God rarely allows His servants to see how much good they are doing, so you will have to work by faith and leave the results with Him. We'll get the report and the reward when we stand before Him in Glory, not one minute before. Meanwhile, let's not permit these four "frustration factors" to add to our burdens and rob us of joy and power in our ministry.
©2004 Warren W. Wiersbe, used by permission.