My first few years as an average pastor were pretty tough. I pastor a great church but I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings of loneliness and inadequacy as a first time pastor of a small church. I was accustomed to a large church with lots of help and lots of resources. Now as a pastor I had very little resources and very little understanding of the unique challenges of an average pastor. Most of my friends were pastors in larger churches and couldn’t relate to my new situation. I knew very few pastors of small churches. I felt alone. I felt insecure. I felt ignored.
You have heard the golden rule: Do unto others what you want them to do to you. This is an important principle for believers to live by. But it is a great concept for understanding yourself as an average pastor as well. I have learned that one of my keys to happiness is to do unto other Pastors what I would want them to do for me. This conviction has changed my outlook on my role as an average pastor. My experience has led me to a several convictions that have made a big difference in my life.
- If I want to have friends, I must go make them. The pastors around you won’t seek you out. They are busy with their own troubles and feelings of loneliness. I wished someone would reach out to me. I decided if I wanted to be known, I would have to get to know others. So I did. I called other pastors and went to lunch. I got to know them. I went out of my way to make others feel known. In return, I became known. I don’t feel alone or insignificant any more. Now I have a great network of pastor friends in similar situations that I can share this journey with.
- I won’t let any new pastors feel the way I felt. One of the things I like to do is to keep up on the new pastors in my area. I don’t want someone else to feel like I did. So when there is a new pastor, especially if they are going into a tough situation, I will go meet them. I want them to know they are not alone. I call and check in on them. I make sure that they have at least one person that remembers that they are there. That is what I wish someone had done for me. So I am committed to making that happen for others.
- I will invest in other pastors. What I wished people would have done for me, I am now doing for others. That is why I started this blog. That is why I connect with other pastors, giving them resources or inviting them to go with me to conferences. I get so much joy from being a friend of pastors. When I make them feel important, it helps me with my own feelings of loneliness and insignificance.
This weekend my church is hosting a workshop for rural pastors put on my Rural Compassion. Rural Compassion partners with rural churches to help them reach their community. Its mission is to not let rural pastors be forgotten. They believe that “small towns have big possibilities.” That mission is meaningful to me. So we are hosting one of their workshops here. We are not a rural church, but I know the struggles I have at my church. Ministry in the rural church is often even a bigger challenge. Most of these pastors are in small communities and almost all of them are bi-vocational pastors. I wanted to help make sure these unsung and under appreciated pastors will be able to be appreciated, encouraged and given fresh ideas for ways they can reach their community. I am so excited to be able to invest in these pastors.
Why are we doing it? Because I have learned the golden rule. This is what I had hoped someone would do for me. I will not wait around for someone to do it for others. When I do for others, what I wish others would do for me, we both have our needs met and the body of Christ is built up.
For more information on Rural Compassion, check out the video here: