We are coming to the end of this series of 7 things preachers never say. Last time we mentioned money, but here is number 6, which will set up number 7.
6. I am weary.
Those in leadership in the church know that it can be a very wearying task. There is a reason that good churches give their pastors periodic sabbaticals. While that may seem like a luxury other professions don’t offer, many pastors know that if it weren’t for a sabbatical at a key time they might have burned out and needed to step into a different line of work.
This is really a follow-on from number one in the list – that we can feel overwhelmed by expectation. And maybe a follow-on from number four – that temptation and spiritual attack can wear us down. Sometimes the cumulative effect of relentless ministry demands and life can really drain the tanks.
In church ministry, the leaders feel the weight of pastoral responsibility. We feel burdened by those who are struggling with health difficulties, financial difficulties, and marital difficulties. We feel burdened by those who are heading for a crash because of foolish decisions they are making in life. We feel the weight of a relentless ministry schedule that means the next meeting is never too far away and we always have to be present, let alone prepared to lead or speak. We feel it when our own family is a real family and things come up that require extra time that we don’t really have. We too tend to have car trouble or washing machine trouble at inopportune moments. We also may be struggling personally from an onslaught of temptation, doubt, criticism, or whatever. And so sometimes we are weary.
This is both good and bad. It is good for us to feel the pressures of life and to be pushed up against God so that we aren’t preaching his sufficiency from the safety of an easy life. It is bad because in some churches those “in ministry” are expected to have it all together…so there may be nobody to talk to, and thus the weariness can start to feel inescapable and lonely.
This raises an important point. There are some things preachers never say publicly, but it is important that we do speak somewhere. We need to be honest with God, and we need safe friends with whom we can be honest too. Maybe someone else in ministry but outside your church? I know how vital this has been for me at various times. Safe and confidential friends to go to for advice or just a listening ear. Some people vent indiscriminately and do immeasurable damage. We have to be wise, but we must not go it alone. Do you have people you can go to in order to share struggle? Do you have friends that will bring you to Jesus when going to him alone is not lifting you? If you can’t name them, you probably don’t have them. Think it through now before the heavy cloud becomes too much and you can’t think straight.