Many people may believe they know what a pastor’s pain is in their ministry and life. They may believe it is the member who knows it all and makes sure the pastor knows the best way to perform his ministry. They may believe it is the one who constantly complains about everything, the music is too loud, too soft, it is too old, it is too new, we have never done it that way before. They may believe it is the one who talks behind the pastor’s back about him. They may believe it is the person who says the pastor before this one was so much better. The list is long that could cause a pastor pain but while all these and many more may cause a pastor discomfort and pain they are not a pastor’s pain.
A pastor’s pain is when he stands before Jesus and looks Him in the eye and Jesus asks him, “Feed My sheep”, and the pastor has to say to Him, “I am sorry, the sheep you gave me to feed I lost”. The pastor says to Jesus, “They left the house you gave me to watch over”. They left for what they believe were good reasons. They left because someone spoke harshly to them, someone didn’t talk to them, someone didn’t agree with them, someone changed the way the church was run, someone changed the music, someone sat in their pew, someone hurt them, and someone changed my church. The list could go on and on of the reasons for someone leaving the church. Each one of those reasons seemed like a good reason to leave. The problem lies in that the church is thought of as a country club rather than a hospital. The church is a hospital and each patient has their own particular health problem and some have more difficult cases needing more care and takes more time of the doctors and nurses and staff of the hospital. But each needs to be in the hospital or they will never get better. Each one needs to be there because they may have set backs and need more treatment. No, wait, each needs to be there because they WILL have a set back and DEFINITELY need more treatment, just like the pastor.
Now you may be wondering what does this have to do with a pastor’s pain. A pastor’s pain is that no matter the reason that a person leaves the church he is pastoring, it is his fault. It is his fault because he didn’t act or maybe he did act and it was the wrong action. A pastor is called to feed the sheep of God and when the sheep leave it is his fault. Jesus has asked a pastor to “Feed My sheep” and a pastor who loses His sheep believes it is his fault and no matter what it is up to him to make sure that does not happen and when they leave that is a pastor’s pain. It may not be realistic or true but that does not matter to the pastor, he believes it is his FAULT.
Now, having said all that I have not written this to receive your sympathy. I have written this to let you know that as you look at your pastor know he is constantly carrying this pain with him wherever he goes and no matter how many churches he may pastor, he will remember every one of those people who left on his watch. Even though people come and go in a church it does not matter each loss is pain in the heart of a pastor and can never be removed. A pastor lives with this pain every day of his life and will live with it until the day he dies. Please know that this is written in love so that you can hopefully understand when a pastor may be depressed or hurting or burning out and may say things in anger or frustration often times it is because the pain never goes away. May God bless you wherever you hear the Word of God and with the freedom that Jesus brings through His sacrifice and forgiveness. God Bless you all.
Pastor Randy Johnson