So if your pastor (or a pastor) could open up and share what he/she really feels when it comes to the subject of work, particularly his/her work, what would he or she say?
In my last post, I shared 16 points that business people shared when asked, “How could your pastor understand your life at work better?” At the same gathering we asked the pastors present to break off in to their own sub-group and answer their own version of the question; “How could the business people in your church better understand you?” Ironically they had fewer answers.
The Raw Data:
- We are in the real world too. (We hate the notion that we’re not). We serve in the real world of broken families and kids who die of overdoses and are often on the frontlines of crisis intervention. We live in more of a battle than a bubble.
- We are fighting for you to live a Christ-centered life in contrast to a compartmentalized life. We believe this is the best way to live, even though its messy and difficult.
- There is a very real tension between organizational leadership and the relational dynamics in the church. “We can’t just fire people, we only tell people to leave when they are dangerous.” We want you to understand that this is harder than it looks.
- It is challenging to measure how we are doing—everyone has a differing opinion regarding what counts as progress or success.
- We face unlimited expectations—everyone in the church functions like they are our boss. “Being a pastor is like being nibbled to death by ducks.”
- Church work is a fishbowl—everyone seems to know everything about us—how our kids are doing, whether or not we’re gaining weight, etc.
- We are often lonely.
The event that spawned these reflections was called “A Morning of Courageous Conversations.” It was indeed that, as each side was honest and vulnerable. What were the pastors saying? Two things:
Pastoring is Hard Work. Being a pastor is having one foot in the messy real world and another in the ideal spiritual world. While all work can be difficult, some things pastors face bring them their own version of challenge.
Pastoring is Hard on Me. Being a pastor is hard on those of us who have that calling. Loneliness, feeling marginalized, wondering how to measure success–these all weigh on pastors.
The Power of Relationship: The primary action item we all walked away from the Morning of Courageous Conversations was this: reach across the isle, the divide, and start to build a relationship with someone on the other side. Friendship would go a long way to avoiding the disconnect between pastors and business leaders.
How About You:
If you’re a pastor, what would you like your business leader types to better understand about your work at church?
For More: Check out the Vocational Divide series, 19 posts related to making work better by bringing faith to work with the intentional investment of pastors.
About the Author: Dr. Chip Roper writes Marketplace Faith from New York City, where he is the director of Marketplace Engagement at the New York City Leadership Center. Chip is convinced that a central piece of God’s plan for any city or community is the work that people do each day. You can learn more about him here. Chip is available for speaking, consulting, and coaching engagements. Inquire via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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