Of course, this perception of pastors is very similar to that of school teachers… After all, they only work 9 months out of the year, right? Well- not if they take their responsibility seriously. There is no way to effectively teach without preparation. And when you add the many hours in meetings, training, grading,extra duties,most people who haven’t been there would be shocked.
It all comes back down to perception. Those on the “outside” see a pastor show up Sunday morning, preach, and go home. They assume he just walked in and spit out a sermon and went home. Never mind that he has at least one more Sunday service to preach or teach, he likely has some form of Wednesday ministry to prepare for, fields calls from church members, visits, and anywhere from 6-12 hours per sermon in study and writing,hours in prayer,and possibly voluntary work for the association or denomination in which the church associates. Pastors are generally “on call” 24/7, all while trying to be a husband and father, and a member of his community.
And he lives his life under a virtual microscope both from the outside world, and maybe more troubling, by his own flock.
I know of a pastor who’s ministry was nearly destroyed over one person’s perception. This man picked up aluminum cans in his “off time” to supplement his income. He had done this for quite some time. One day, a church member saw the bags of cans in his vehicle, which included beer cans, and – instead of speaking to their pastor, this church member picked up the phone and began a wave of calls that spread through a major portion of the congregation. Of course, the story that spread was not of a pastor trying to make ends meet by picking up and selling aluminum cans. The story was that the pastor had been drinking and was scripturally disqualified from being a pastor (1 Timothy 3:1-7). By the next time the congregation assembled together, there was a sizable faction ready to run the pastor out of town. The pastor was blind-sided because nobody had the brotherly love to speak to him, beginning with the church member who began the whole episode. Even more sad, the church split over the issue, not because the pastor had done anything at all wrong, but because members were more concerned about their personal pride (they couldn’t stand admitting that they were the wrong ones for backbiting and passing judgement without evidence). One person’s perception caused chaos and pain.
On the flip side,pastors struggle with many of the stumbling bocks everyone struggles with. All while being constantly being reminded that he is going to answer to God for how he handled the ministries entrusted to his care.
And we wouldn’t trade it for the world! There is no greater calling!