Once again, SBC Voices’ friend, the SBC Plodder (known in real life as William Thornton) shares his perspective with us. Should be a good discussion.
I love the brethren, my ministerial colleagues, fellow soldiers of the Lord, partners in our common calling of pastoral ministry; however, there is a malady that is common only to us: Chronic Clergy Complaining Syndrome (I recognize that my brethren have an unnatural and perhaps unhealthy love for alliteration and am happy to feed their addiction). Perhaps you have seen it, or, had it.
I haven’t overlooked that the data show that “clergy rank among the highest rates of obesity, depression, high blood pressure and adult-onset diabetes when compared to other professions” (from an informative Associated Baptist Press article here) and acknowledge that many of the brethren seem to lack the ability to manage their job tasks with the result that they are frustrated, unsatisfied, and unhealthy.
Nonetheless, I have heard enough to have identify three areas where I believe that our church members and others might consider us to be, well, whining about our calling. See if you recognize these. Disagree if you wish. Feel free to try and convince me I am wrong in my assessment here. Perhaps I am.
Pastoral ministry is extraordinarily stressful, moreso that other occupations.
It can be. It might be. There are unhealthy churches and the brethren might be advised not to tarry too long in those. But setting ourselves and our ministry as exceeding all others in job demands and stress probably isn’t realistic.
Pastors do endure the complaints of members, their unrealistic expectations, the pressures of being a pastor of a church, the emotional toll of hearing peoples’ difficulties, and of dealing with folks in the crises of their lives.
There is some truth to this but one might compare clergy to other ‘helping’ professions – nursing, hospice care, and the like. The truth is that since we deal with people, we deal with all of life events for our people – the joys and the sorrows.
If the Lord isn’t sufficient in the life of the pastor as he ministers to others, perhaps another occupation would be better; regardless, I rather think that the average layperson responds with half an eye roll when his pastors talks about how hard it is.
Preaching a sermon is like working an eight hour day.
Oh, please. Please, please, please don’t try this one on your congregation. You may get plumb tuckered out by a thirty minute sermon on Sunday morning but don’t tell the guy who manages a restaurant and works a 80 hour week how hard it is. Laypeople give a full eye roll to this old saw.
I’m underpaid for the level of my education.
No you are not. You are paid what the market considers you to be worth. Sure, your MDiv is worth less in the marketplace than a BSN, or an MBA even though it may have required more credit hours but none of us have the right to expect to be compensated commensurately with our education. You should have gone into a field where a degree and skills obtained thereby translates readily into money. An MDiv should make you a better minister and therefore has value even if the value is not expressed by increased compensation.
Plodder’s suggestions to help the brethren avoid unbecoming whinefests:
1. If you think preaching a 30 minute sermon is like working an eight hour day, take a nap on Sunday afternoon.
2. If you think you are underpaid, find a better paying occupation.
You are in an occupation you chose. No one forced you into it.
3. Talk to some eightysomething retired pastors about compensation and other job related matters.
4. Figure out a way to be paid a dollar every time someone says, “I wouldn’t want your job.”
5. Thank Jesus for your high calling.
Hope this helps.