What’s the toughest and least appreciated job on the planet?
Some would suggest the military or police or fire department. Those are absolutely some of the hardest, most dangerous, and at times unappreciated jobs. But that’s not what I’m looking for.
Others will definitely chime in with stay-at-home mom. This is one of the most important jobs in the world, it gets no pay, and people who go to work in “the real world” have an image in their mind of a mom sitting at home watching Oprah all day while the kids play outside. Not accurate at all.
I could list job after job that may fit this description in one way or another, so let me just get right to it.
He’s the guy that most people assume works one day a week for about 3 hours. The rest of the time he sits around drinking coffee and reading books. Gets into the office after 9am and leaves before 4pm. Only shows up at the office two or three days per week. It’s a cakewalk.
And this couldn’t be further from the truth.
You’ve already figured it out. It’s your pastor. Some people actually believe that being a pastor is an easy job. They believe that pastors keep easy hours and just have to teach on Sunday. Everything else is just the “stuff they do” to fill time time the rest of the week.
As Vice President of Promise Keepers, I met with literally hundreds of pastors. I heard their stories. Saw the exhaustion on their faces. Felt the frustration. And I’ve come to a conclusion: being a pastor is the toughest job in the world.
First, you have the responsibility of rightly dividing the Word of Truth. As a teacher of the Bible, I understand this burden. I struggle to make sure that what I teach is accurate, to the best of my ability. I’ve sat back later and watched recordings of teachings I’ve done, and cringed at simple mistakes such as mixing up names, and found myself losing sleep over this. The point of the message hadn’t changed in any way, but my desire to get things right caused me to lie in bed turning my mistake over and over again in my head. I believe that pastors desire to to teach truth, and this is weighty.
Second, the pastor’s hours are 24/7. They get the phone calls at 1am from someone who’s child was just in a car accident and may not make it through the night. They are forced to cancel much needed vacations in order to deliver the eulogy at a funeral of some seasoned saint on the church membership roll who hasn’t been able to attend the services once since the pastor came to the church. And when the toilet is overflowing and flooding the church, it’s often the pastor who is the one standing in sewage up to his ankles trying to get it fixed.
Finally, pastors are rarely spoken too without somebody bringing a problem to them. A marriage is crumbling, so the pastor gets a phone call. A family has had the power shut off because they can’t pay their bills, so they call the pastor to ask for help. Another person didn’t like one of the songs the worship leader sand that Sunday, so the pastor needs to hear about it. Nearly every conversation a pastor has is an emotional withdrawal from their account.
What’s amazing, is that most pastors never complain. They don’t expect accolades or rewards. They are only doing what they’ve been called to do. In fact, when October rolls around – Pastor Appreciation Month – they cringe.
And maybe they dread October, not because they have some deep seeded humility that overwhelms them. Maybe it’s because they wish that the “appreciation” being expressed, was something that happened more often during the year, instead of whenever somebody in the church remembers that a specific month has been set aside for it.
This week, I encourage you to pick up the phone and call your pastor. Don’t ask for anything. Don’t mention a problem. Just tell them that you love them and that you’re praying for them.