By Thom Rainer
I love pastors. I love their hearts. I love their commitment to God and to the churches they serve.
I also love new pastors. It is fascinating to hear their thoughts after they have served as a pastor for a year or two. I have assembled some of those thoughts in the form of direct quotes from new pastors via social media, my blog, my podcast, and Church Answers.
Here, then, are the top ten surprises new pastors have. I offer them as direct quotes with brief comments.
- “It is amazing and challenging to see how quickly my calendar filled up.” A number of pastors lamented how little time they give to evangelism and connecting with people in the community.
- “I really get some weird requests.” I covered this issue in an earlier post. One of my favorites came from the pastor who was asked to euthanize an injured rabbit. But perhaps the request by a church member to euthanize his healthy mother-in-law was even weirder.
- “It’s a lot of work to do new sermons every week.” Yes it is.
- “Funerals are pretty easy. Weddings are a pain.” Most new pastors were not prepared for the opinions and emotions of weddings. Some commented how the rehearsal and wedding consumed an entire weekend.
- “I have been surprised at the incredibly loyal support I receive from some church members.” They were not the members the pastor expected to provide so much support.
- “I have been surprised at the intense criticisms I receive from some church members.” They were not the members the pastor expected to inject so much negativity.
- “I never expected I needed to be knowledgeable in so many areas.” Some pastors commented about their lack of knowledge in church finances and budgeting, counseling, administration, leadership, facilities, and Robert’s Rules of Order, to name a few.
- “There is no such thing as a vacation.” Many pastors shared how they have never had an uninterrupted vacation.
- “I am never prepared for the tragedies.” One pastor was confronted with a tragic automobile accident his third month in ministry. In a family of five, the mother and one of the children were killed.
- “The stress on my family has been so much greater than I expected.” I specifically and repeatedly heard about the surprise of strained marriages.
I can still remember well my first pastorate. I remember how surprised I was to find out a couple did not like me. One of my toughest lessons was learning that I could not please everyone. My responsibility is always first and foremost to please God.