don’t wait for pity

don’t wait for pity May 23, 2011

Yesterday I did a Twitter and Facebook post. This is what I said:

Pastors: never wait for your congregation to feel sorry for you. You often must walk your path with lonely determination.

I received lots of feedback and emails. Some people applied it to more than just pastors with their congregations. Some applied it to themselves as members of churches. Others even applied it to personal relationships such as marriage and waiting for the spouse to feel sorry for them.

As a pastor there were many times I wished the congregation would understand me and sympathize with me. But only one or two people would. Maybe. Individuals. Rarely, if ever, the group. I learned that if I wanted pity, it may bring out the worst in the person or people I want pity from. In fact, some people despise it and punish it. Wanting pity, wanting people to feel sorry for me, is a waste of energy.

I discovered that I had to find courage to walk my own path. I had to find my own certainty. Once I found that and nurtured it, my need for pity decreased.

This is not to say that I was never in need. Quite the opposite. There are times I am really hurting and could use sympathy. There’s something wonderful about being comforted. But I can’t count on it. I can’t wait for it to come before I move on. I can’t depend on pity to fuel my motivation. I can’t wait for pity, never mind praise, before I can live my life as I know I must.

In this was it is a lonely determination.

Buy the original cartoon of “Tissue” above. Or buy a $15 print (free shipping) of this cartoon. (Just email me.)

I published a book of cartoons that addresses issues like these. For just $9, order Nakedpastor101: Cartoons by David Hayward“, from,,

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  • amy

    I understand what you are saying and I’ve been in that seat, minus the comforter in the sketch. The hardest thing I had to face was that out of all the people, relationships, friends or just plain humans that were in my sphere, not one of them gave a rats ass about me when I was flat out on my ass and needed to hear another voice (except for my husband)… I’ve learned alot about myself since then and it’s been a good thing, a healthy thing 🙂

  • i identify with that amy

  • kls

    Ok, to some, well, maybe most this will be an overused, empty clichè, but I really pray this wholeheartedly at times: “to console, rather be consoled”. I think there is a tipping point in this too, when your pain causes you, or maybe enables you to identify with the suffering of others. So blessed is the thorn, as the modern prophet, Patti Smith said. 🙂

  • Al Newberry

    You don’t respect someone you pity.

  • Oh man – this hit home for sure with all the crap swirling around me today. This past two years has involved a major purge of my address book that’s been incredibly painful but also a relief in that I am getting a stronger sense of who my real friends are and who just wanted to be around me because I was the cool chick who wrote for the Wittenburg Door at one point. 🙂

  • David

    I have a few friends with whom I have traveled a long time, but few get it. I have friends who are pastors (not all of us are competing–maybe most, but not all). and they get it. They are to be treasured.

  • Wayne

    The pity pot can be a comfortable fit, but when I sit there too long I get a ring around my butt.

  • Becky,
    you’re still a cool chick… remember that. David the only reason i’m friends with you is to get good deals on t-shirts.
    xoxo can’t help but poke. xoxoxoxoxoxo

  • lol ya!

  • What you get deals on T-shirts? I had to pay full price. The T-shirt I bought got too worn out – so I will get another one whenever I find any money.

    I’m not cool Cathryn in the emergent hipster vein where I’ll get all ziggy for Zizek and flash my Foucault for you. I’m about as welcome at Wild Goose as a dog fart.

  • Wendy

    When people offer me sympathy, I cry. I HATE to cry over my life. And I hate self-pity. It is what it is and I lived and learned. Moving on…

  • you are too damn smart for your own good. Nailed it again

  • there is a beer and a bed waiting for you and your family if you ever make it to Anchorage

  • John T

    Is this what it means to “sow in tears”?

  • john t: yes.

  • that sounds sweet Pastor Dan.

  • Ant

    Very courageous of you to admit – truly you are the Naked Pastor!