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September 30, 2017

The Pressure of the Pastorate

By Shawn Lovejoy

Wow. I spoke with another friend and megachurch pastor who was removed from his church last month. As a leadership coach and pastor to pastors, it breaks my heart and causes me to lose sleep every time. What happened? Nothing really. Life. The gravitational pull. Pressure. Pride. That’s what happened.

At the end of the day, the ministry model so common in our day tends to lend itself for this to happen. One thing is sure…this is us, except by the grace of God. This is us, if we’re not careful. This is some of us if we keep going the way we’re going. To finish well, we will need to fight against the gravitational pull, and beat our bodies into submission.

This is our call: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27).

Relationships that are for us and with us

The #1 mistake I see pastors make is living in isolation. We don’t mean to, but we just get busy, overcommitted, overextended, exhausted, and sometimes even numb. After a long week of ministry, many of us just want to go home and binge on Netflix or self-medicate in some other way.

What’s missing in the lives of many megachurch pastors I know is genuine friendship, camaraderie, koinonia, and intimacy. We are missing relationships that are FOR us and WITH us, not just BEHIND us or UNDER us.

Jesus is our greatest example. Why did He pick the 12 apostles? Mark 3:14 tells us: “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach…”

Even Jesus knew He needed people with Him and for Him. What do pastors really need? If there was one value I would list above all others it’s this: friends. Not acquaintances, but really great friends that we respect and admire and who understand us. We need friends who are dealing with what we’re dealing with and understand the pressure. We need friends who have walked where we will walk and have the scars to prove it, friends who will challenge us and hold us accountable. There is great pressure in the pastorate, but it doesn’t have to break us.

Ecclesiastes 4:12b says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Pastors, let us not break. Let us not give up. Let us finish well and finish together. Let us stick together and do life together. Let us run the race in such a way that we don’t disqualify ourselves and pray for revival together. Let us see God pour out His Spirit in our lives and in our churches.

I am all for the Great Commission but not at the expense of the Great Commandment. Pastors, let us not just love God; let us also love each other. Let us stop criticizing, critiquing, and isolating ourselves from each other. If you haven’t yet, it is time to get some friends and mentors. Success is found in many counselors. If I can help, let me know.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shawn Lovejoy

Shawn Lovejoy (@shawnlovejoy) is the Directional Leader of CouragetoLead.com. He planted and pastored Mountain Lake Church over the last sixteen years, while also leading ChurchPlanters.com over the last decade. Shawn is the author of The Measure of Our Success: An Impassioned Plea to Pastors, and Be Mean (About the Vision): Relentless Protecting The Vision. Shawn loves Jesus, his wife, his kids, the church, pastors, and College Football...in that order. His heart is coaching leaders, pastoring pastors, and helping them all conquer what is conquering them and their organizations.

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