I had lunch with a friend of mine who is a wonderful seminary professor. During lunch we talked about a number of concerns related to life, ministry, church, etc. At one point, I asked him what he thought about the number of seminary students who wanted no part of ministry in “traditional” churches.
(I asked this question not suggesting that the desire of someone to participate in a church plant, inner city ministry, is a negative. Rather, I was interested in hearing from my friend who interacts with seminary students every day.)
He said that he suspected that there were a variety of reasons for this. We talked about some of those reasons. Then he said, “I can tell you what students said ten years ago in answer to the question of why students did not want to be in the role of pastor in a traditional church.”
The students who were asked this same question gave two reasons for not wanting to do this:
1. They did not want the 24/7 lifestyle that this ministry seemed to demand from pastors.
2. They did not know any pastors who were happy.
Later, I thought about what my friend said. “They did not know any pastors who were happy.”
Now that is a dose of reality!
Why is it that some ministers seem to get bitter and cynical?
Yes, I know that some ministers have been shamefully mistreated by some congregations. I know that some have been thoughtlessly disposed of by congregations. Some ministers receive very little if any encouragement from their elders.
It is also true that some ministers have behaved immaturely before congregations. It is true that some have used poor judgment with the members of their churches. Some ministers (like some elders) have pursued their own ego needs instead of modeling what it means to be loving and selfless.
Yet, I think about my friend’s statement. “They did not know any pastors who were happy.” Could it be that some of us who have preached for churches for many years are obscuring the vision of ministry for others? Could it be that they have never seen in some of us anything they wanted to emulate or duplicate?
Isn’t the gospel larger than our frustrations? Isn’t the joy of the Lord possible for a person even when that person is experiencing hardship and persecution?