Ministry: The world’s easiest job

 

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Snark Meter Sorta Snarky.002

The woman looked up from her desk in the apartment rental office and asked, “So you are a pastor? A priest?” This did not take clairvoyance on her part. I was wearing a clerical collar. She followed up the question with what I suspect many think but are too polite to say out loud: “That sounds like a cake job. You preach a little message and do a little communion – full-time pay for what, like a 4 hour work week?”

Here is what I have done in the four hours since my four hour a week job was “over”:

  • Had a conversation with a staff member about stepping up their job performance
  • Drove 23 miles to feed the dog of a person in a psych ward
  • Did behind the scenes warming up of board members for future conversations about leadership expectations
  • Provided emotional support to a woman choosing not to treat her reoccurring cancer
  • Talked to a parishioner in jail
  • Supported our children’s workers by lovingly suspending a child from church for a pattern of behaving badly
  • Led a board meeting in which I had to communicate bad news and then help people remain confident in the face of it
  • Anointed a teenager in the hospital who has been shot in the head and prayed with his mom

Don’t misunderstand me, ministry is a fantastic gig. But an easy one? Not so much.

Good thing this is only part-time. People might start having expectations.

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15 thoughts on “Ministry: The world’s easiest job

  1. (Heavy sigh) Once, a football coach told myself and another youth pastor that all we did was “eat cheese pizza and go to Six Flags”. It’s interesting that so many perceive that pastors do little more than write and deliver a Sunday morning homily! On a lighter note, that aforementioned youth pastor’s 4 year old daughter was once asked in Sunday School what kind of work her dad did, and she replied, “My daddy don’t work. He’s a preacher.”

  2. I love reading these blogs! And I love Matts style. I have posted before in agreement or support of a blog…but this time may I post “from the other side of the table?”

    I have been a Deacon under four different Pastors…at the same church. In the last 30 years I have been on the Board for 25 years. Let me play the “snarky card” this one time…

    Why do Pastors feel the need to justify their hours to those of us not in paid vocational ministry?

    Why do Pastors feel the need to explain just how delicate, miserable time consuming and ultimately lonely their job is?

    I give you the Face Book posts, “21 things your Pastor wishes you knew about being a Pastor”, or, “21 things your Pastor wishes you knew about being a Pastor’s Wife”, or, “21 things your Pastor wishes you knew about being a Pastor’s kid.”

    I am not ignorant of the demands of a Pastor’s vocation…but it does weary me to be constantly reminded that those demands are so much more difficult than the demands of my life. It does weary me to have to fluff up a Pastor when some poor beleaguered soul says some thing negative about his sermon.

    Pastors love to preach on contentment…meaning how we normal people should be content and grateful for whatever God sees fit to bless us with, no matter how meager it may be…but Pastors seem to be the most dis-contented among us! If a Pastor’s job is, in fact, a calling (as is mine…a Heating Contractor), wouldn’t we suppose that God would equip those he calls to live victoriously and contentedly?

    My kids grew up as Deacon’s Kid’s…and enjoyed all the scrutiny, endless hours of volunteering at Church, mandatory attendance, expectations of service that any involved family knows…even Pastor’s kids…but mine did it without any of the perks. Our Pastor’s kids have enjoyed free motorcycles, snow mobiles, musical instruments, regularly scheduled vacations, Christmas gifts and bonuses, scholarships to camp and college, free clothing, and on and on.

    My wife has enjoyed all the volunteer hours of a church mom…VBS, Bible Studies, Sunday school Teacher, Nursery worker, counselor, confidant, committee member, etc without any of the perks.

    I have taught for over thirty years, served as a Deacon, filled other offices, worked in VBS, sung in choirs, led Bible Studies, filled the Pulpit when Pastor was sick or vacationing, led the songs, cleaned the church. Did I mention that I am self employed and have a van full of tools and am expected to show up at every work day and let the crew use them. And because I am self employed, I can obviously arrange my schedule around all the churches calendar events. But, nobody mowed my yard, or works on my car, or painted my house, or took me fishing.

    And my family did all of this while I worked multiple jobs, started and continue to run a successful contracting business as a working owner putting in 80 hours a week outside of Church. My wife homeschooled until the kids were in highschooled then worked in town. I coached my kids Little League teams and they played Highschool sports and I attended their games with my weekends. My attendance record at Church is better than some Pastors I have known. Sunday is not a day off for my household.

    Lest you think me bitter or un-grateful…I am not. I asked God for the opportunity to serve, and take it very seriously and for the most part enjoy doing so. So does my wife, and all four of my kids are very active in churches across America today as a result. We did not do it for perks or praise.

    Nor am I making a blanket indictment of all Pastors.

    But, I swear…I’m gonna respond with my own “21 things your Plumber/Deacon wishes his Pastor knew about being an active Member in the Church.”

    • Darrell,

      Thank you for all you do in the name of Jesus Christ. I can only imagine how grateful your congregation’s staff is to have a family like yours who is committed to partnering with them in sharing the Gospel, both inside and outside the confines of your church building. As a non-ordained, lay ministry staff of a congregation, I know how much I appreciate the (very) few families like yours. Your type is the backbone to a successful ministry. And I praise God for saints like you.

  3. Hi Matt-
    I think it’s amazing that anyone signs up for the job, but I’m grateful that people do.
    I definitely don’t think it’s easy.

  4. Well, to be charitable, there’s a lot of things that seem easy until you actually look behind the scenes.

    And yet on the other hand, I see where that lady could honestly draw that conclusion. If her church consistently delivers 20 minutes motivational self-help sermonettes and the “worship” consists of singing along to “Jesus is my boyfriend” pop songs complete with Pink-floyd-esque lights and fog machines (no I’m not making this up), can we really blame her for not taking your job seriously?

    I think the dumbing down of church causes the parishioners and the wider culture to not take it seriously. Or to put it another way, a casual church causes itself to be seen casually – and a job that is done casually is an easy job.

    That lady’s comment may just be another indication of the evangelical church’s failure to work out its mission in a more serious way. Just a thought.

  5. It’s a 24/7/365 job…and then some because it’s emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining. Yes, people in vocational ministry could try to choose a different profession. But it’s hard … no, impossible … to run from that call in your life. When God has set a person aside for vocational ministry, it’s not something that can be ignored or walked away from. And those who do, I don’t believe had a true calling in the first place. “Work” looks very different in ministry than pretty much any other vocation. And from the outside, the vast majority of people simply do not understand what that “work” is.

    PS – my all-time favorite line that comes from the “all you do is play games and eat pizza” crowd is “Maybe someday you can do REAL ministry…you know, like with adults.”

    • “Games and pizza” is frustrating.

      My other favorite line was uttered by a member of my old Young Life committee after a summer that included outreach camp, discipleship camp, and a four week assignment as a camp speaker in which I returned home to a major financial deficit (caused by not being around to fundraise all summer) : “Six weeks of summer camp? I wish I got a six week vacation!”

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