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10 Scary Misconceptions People Have About Their Pastors

I started this blog last year to help pastors and church leaders because I love the local church. Leaders and laypeople alike are some of God’s greatest gifts to us, and I love being in the dozens of churches where I speak each year. At the same time, though, laypersons sometimes have misperceptions of pastors that I think hurt their leaders. Here are some of them:

1. We never struggle with spiritual disciplines. Even those of us called to lead God’s church wrestle with finding the time and discipline to spend private time with God. We live in the tension of studying for a sermon and studying for personal growth.

2. We’re all certain about our calling. The stress of leading a church sometimes causes some of us to wonder if this is what God has called us to do. We want to be 100 percent confident, but that’s not always the situation.

3. We don’t have to pay taxes. I’ve heard this wrong idea for decades. Some churches, I’m afraid, use this misperception to pay their pastor less than they should.

4. We never get nervous preaching the Word. I’ve preached for almost 40 years, and my heart still pounds a bit when walking to the pulpit. Frankly, I hope that reaction never goes away—proclaiming the Word ought to weigh heavy on us.

5. Our faith keeps us from getting wounded. In fact, it’s often just the opposite. Because of our faith in God and His church, we assume that God’s people will treat each other with love and grace. Sometimes that doesn’t happen.

6. All full-time pastors get benefits like any other employee. Many do, but some of us receive a salary “package” out of which we must pay our own health insurance, life insurance, auto reimbursement, retirement, etc. In that case, our “salary” is seriously reduced.

7. We learned all we need to know in Bible school or seminary. That’s simply not so, as no classroom experience can prepare us for all the tasks of ministry. We’re learning every day how to lead staff meetings, conduct a funeral, deal with marital conflict and address so many other issues—often by learning the hard way.

8. We have a lot of real friends. We have many acquaintances, but often few friends. Ministry can be really lonely, actually.

9. Our home is a slice of heaven. It may look that way on Sunday, but we experience real life the rest of the week just like everybody else does. Our family has its own struggles.

10. We’re always on the lookout for the next best church. To be honest, some pastors do live that way—and they don’t make it easy for the rest of us who are genuinely committed where God has placed us. Most of us really love our church, even with all their imperfections.

What would you add to this list?

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