Unless you have personally worked as a Pastor, it’s impossible to truly know all the ins and outs. Whether it be the challenge of finding work/family balance or the stress of talking about church giving, once you become a pastor your eyes are opened to a whole new world.
What do you wish you knew before becoming a church leader? As for me, I wish I knew about these five things beforehand:
1. It’s really, really hard.
I’ve been pastoring for less than three years. Prior to being Campus Pastor, I was an Assistant Pastor, Youth Pastor, District Youth Director… I did a lot of difficult things. But for whatever reason, I thought pastoring was just the next logical progression, and that by the time I got there, it’d be a piece of cake. I remember looking at my pastor behind the pulpit so many times and thinking, “I can totally do that.”
If I’m being honest, I was also cynical and judgmental of his leadership. As a Youth Pastor, especially, I was well-loved by students and parents, and couldn’t understand the conflicts people seemed to have with the pastor. “If he were just more (insert any naïve adjective you can imagine).”
Of course, that’s before I became one.
I never understood that the man and the message behind the pulpit represented just a fragment of the battles and challenges the pastor faced that week. Leadership meetings, budget meetings, counseling those in crumbling marriages, navigating personal attacks… the list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s also incredibly rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. But I wish someone had told me how wrong I was!
2. There’s an expectation of omnipresence.
I fully expected to be “on-call” for the sick and emergencies. I just didn’t know that not everyone has the same idea of what constitutes an emergency as I did. I wish I had more training (and warning) about how to navigate the “tyranny of the urgent.” Especially when the urgent is, many times, not necessarily important.
Prayer has been my salvation in this regard, and helped me to “walk in wisdom…making the best use of the time” (Colossians 4:5, ESV).
3. Workaholics abound, but healthy families do not.
There are a lot of workaholic pastors. They’re available for anything 24/7, are always at the church, and rarely take time off. Many of them even have what most would call “successful ministries” and growing congregations. I’ve also learned that many also have rocky marriages, intense battles with depression, and other issues that risk destroying their families.
Many times, in our desire to be “successful” pastors, we neglect our first congregation — our family. As a father of six, I often have to remind myself that one of the chief qualifications of a pastor is that “He must manage his own household well…” (1 Timothy 3:4, ESV).
4. Vision alone isn’t enough.
I thought an inspiring vision for the church’s future would be enough to provoke people to action. And vision is important — “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint” (Proverbs 29:18, ESV). But vision alone simply isn’t enough if you lack the strategy to implement it.
Broad visionary statements like, “Reach! Grow! Serve!” look great on a graphic, but require a strategy that says, “This is how we’re going to reach; and this is how we’re going to manage our growth; and this is how we’re going to serve our community specifically.”
5. Pastors are the Chief Fundraisers for the church.
I foolishly assumed that financial stewardship in the church was a given, and that people believed the same things about tithing, gifts, and offerings as I did. To say that I was wrong about church giving would be a huge understatement.
Pastors have to — and should — spend a lot of time teaching on the Scriptural view of stewardship and finances. It’s a topic we shy away from for various reasons, but the Word of God is clear that money has devastating potential if not managed properly.
“Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it” (Ecclesiastes 7:12, ESV).
Additionally, I didn’t realize how important it was to make it easy for my congregation to give. In a changing world, people rarely have cash on them for church giving, and even for those who practice tithing it’s so easy to forget a checkbook at home. Teaching on stewardship and generosity and giving is difficult enough — what a shame it would be if I bring people to a point of faithful obedience, but don’t provide them with the technical means to see it through!
Having a solution like Givelify for church giving is critical for churches that have a vision and want to have a strategy to see it funded and supported!