Two Challenges for Pastors

By my friend Allan Bevere

When I was in seminary, I remember my teacher Stanley Hauerwas saying that the two most important challenges pastors face are loneliness and self-hate– loneliness because pastors and their families do not feel comfortable, nor do they find themselves able, at times, to develop the kinds of friendships with others that allow them simply to be “themselves.”

Second, pastors deal with self-hate because too much pastoral ministry is driven by need and there are so many needs, they cannot all be met. So pastors end up hating themselves because at the end of the day there is always someone who still needs pastoral ministry; there is always something that still needs to be done. Pastors can interpret such unfinished business as neglect and dereliction of their duty, and to make matters worse, parishioners can interpret such unfinished business in the same way.

OK, some pastors had a rough day yesterday and this reminder, along with the fine responses he gives at his site, might be what you need. But it leaves me a question:

What are churches and pastors doing about each of these?

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