Life as a pastoral family has so many stressors. One of those stresses is the unrealistic expectations people put on us. Our Administrative Assistant, Christy, recently wrote a blog about this that I want to share with you today.
I stopped and talked to a neighbor yesterday and he asked me where I worked and what I did. I told him about Care for Pastors and what we do, which is offer counseling to pastors, their spouses and children. His eyes got big and his mouth was wide open. He said, “I thought, Pastors were counselors. That’s pretty bad if a pastor needs counseling.” (Side note- this is not an uncommon response. Someone in my own family said, “Surely there can’t be that many pastors who need help.”)
I realize people WANT to believe that men of God and their families are so close to God that they are immune from depression, fear, poverty, anxiety and lots of other issues. And because you WANT to believe that, many of those in the ministry don’t want to let you down by sharing their burdens, weaknesses and pain. So they hide it to please you. They hide the fact that they are struggling emotionally and have problems with their kids and spouse. They hide the fact that they’re in the middle of church conflict with certain members. They don’t let it show that they’re worried if they measure up. They don’t want you to know that they’re stressed about how they’re going to provide for their family and wonder if they even belong in the ministry.
Listen, every pastor I know personally has some kind of struggle. Say what? Yes! Why? Well, it’s because they are flesh and bones and live on planet earth just like you. Who in the Bible, besides Jesus, was perfect? No one. And yet that’s what churches and people expect from the pastor.
And if they do mess up or don’t fit the mold of certain expectations, well they’re disqualified and out of there! Is that how God treated people? Not according to David, Elijah, Peter, Jonah, Abraham and all those other imperfect people in the Bible. Our God is full of grace and never boots us out! He never expected perfection from us in the first place. He restores us and has compassion on us. He tells us that the grace He has given us should be given to others and I don’t think I’m wrong to believe that includes pastors and their families. Why should they be excluded from receiving grace? Please, stop expecting them to be perfect. If you have seen they are weak in a certain area, help them. If they have needs, don’t withhold from them. Don’t assume they’re okay. Ask them if there’s a special way you can pray for them. If they haven’t had a vacation in a while, make it happen. If they are struggling financially, give them a little extra. If it’s in your power to bless them, do it!
And listen, if your pastor has let you down, most likely it was not intentional. Can’t you look past his title and see an ordinary man who is struggling, just like you? A man that needs grace, just like you? You should.
I know any pastor’s wife could have written this because we all deal with it. But I pray what Christy shared helps you realize you are not alone and we are here to walk with you on your ministry journey.