You know how difficult church leadership can be.
You work hard to reach people. Then you ask them to give meaningfully, volunteer their time, and invite their friends. And all the while, they’re volunteers. CEOs at least pay their team. You ask yours to give and sacrifice and never hand them a paycheck.
And—because it’s a volunteer organization—people can leave anytime. Increasingly, people feel freer than ever to do just that.
Being a church leader is a tough assignment (very worth it, but still tough).
The real question is—do you make it harder than it needs to be?
Unfortunately, for many leaders (including myself), the answer is yes.
Ministry Is Hard for So Many
When we live in an era where as many as 42% of pastors have indicated they are seriously thinking of quitting ministry, it’s a good idea to ask whether the pressure is harder than it needs to be.
While I outline the top 5 reasons 42% of pastors want to quit in this article, I think it’s fair and perhaps healthy to ask whether we’re doing some of this to ourselves.
Some of you may have found this article thanks to my leadership podcast, where I referenced it. This article is a follow-up to a conversation I had with Kayla Stoecklein—a young pastor’s wife whose husband died by suicide.
That conversation releases on November 23rd, 2022. You can listen to the interview when it releases by subscribing to the podcast here.
As Kayla looked back on her time in ministry, we discussed the pressures endemic to ministry, and it triggered enough thoughts for me to write further on it.
I’ve also written another article about it based on my very first interview with Kayla (you can read the article here). Still, I wanted to add more to the conversation because I think this subject is so critical and that many of the pressures we face in ministry are more solvable than we think.
So, to deepen the conversation, here are 5 ways pastors make ministry harder than it needs to be. I’ve personally struggled with all five at different points in my leadership.
1. Putting Far Too Much Pressure on Yourself to Preach Perfectly
The hype around preaching has put pressure on the weekend service that neither preachers nor the sermon were ever designed to bear.
The task of preparing a weekly sermon has simultaneously never been easier and never more difficult.
It’s never been easier because, thanks to the internet, pastors now have access to resources that, even twenty years ago, church leaders could only dream of (or acquire if they had a massive budget). The ability to research and explore scripture and topics is unprecedented, as is access to colleagues, peers, and mentors who can make you better.
But, of course, unprecedented access cuts both ways.
Because your congregation also has access to everything—from random information on whatever subject the pastor is addressing to famous preachers Christians follow and admire—it’s easy to put incredible pressure on yourself to preach as well as any influential pastor you (or the people you serve) follow.
The hype around preaching has put pressure on the weekend service that neither preachers nor the sermon were ever designed to bear.The hype around preaching has put pressure on the weekend service that neither preachers nor the sermon were ever designed to bear.CLICK TO TWEET
I have a phrase I use all the time to help alleviate the pressure I put on myself. I remind myself (and my team) that they can’t all be gems. While there’s no substitute for great preparation, you can’t control the outcome or the impact of every message.
Some messages that you think will be incredible don’t land. And others you’re ready to give up on end up changing more lives than you could imagine. Sometimes you get a gem. Other times you get a rock.
Your job is to prepare as well as you can, preach from an open and ready heart, and trust God for the outcome.
One fantastic way to take the pressure off yourself is to book an adequate time to prepare, not just for the message, but to prepare your heart to preach. Then get up and do your best.
That’s it. That’s all you can do.
The fact that God would use flawed humans to deliver a sermon is shocking and inspiring. It also relieves a tremendous amount of pressure.The fact that God would use flawed humans to deliver a sermon is shocking and inspiring. It also relieves a tremendous amount of pressure.CLICK TO TWEET