Perfectly Imperfect – A Travel Guide for Life, Faith, and Relationships!
Long ago, before smart phones, laptops, and blogging, I started in ministry as a young twenty-something youth pastor at a large and growing church. I had no idea what I was doing. Of course, I thought I knew more than I did, but I was clueless.
Almost forty years later, I know a bit more, but the longer I serve, the more I realize how much I still don’t know. I’ve invested my life in the study and teaching of the Word, in the pursuit of better leadership, and in the care of people, and the only thing I know for certain is that I’m still a student. Still learning. Still growing. Still far from perfect.
We (and I use the “royal we” meaning, me too) pastors are a strange lot.
Here are seven ways we struggle:
- We would take a bullet for our parishioners, lay our lives down for those we serve, painfully aware, however, that the bullet may come from someone we love.
- We pour ourselves into the preparation of a weekly message because we believe in the power of the Word to transform lives. Still we realize that maybe half of our congregation will choose something else rather than church this weekend.
- We know God is good, faithful, and sovereign, yet we worry too much about numbers, budgets, and money.
- We do our best to be compassionate and caring. We endeavor to be patient and kind, but sometimes inside we are screaming at a member, “What is wrong with you?! Why do you keep choosing the wide path that leads to death?” More than most people understand, we feel the pain of disappointment because we tend to blame ourselves when someone in our care goes sideways. We think, If only I’d done more. If only I were a better pastor.
- We work long days and long weeks while struggling to create margin and to find Sabbath rest in our schedules (even when I’m off, I often think about work). But if you asked most of us, we would say, “It is an honor to serve, and what I do is a labor of love.”
- We wrestle with insecurity and a tendency to be people-pleasers. Most employees dread or at least worry about annual work evaluations. We pastors are evaluated every Sunday. Every week new people are deciding to return or not, in large part, based on the pastor’s “performance.” Every week our regular attenders and members are evaluating us too, which is why we desire, more than we should, an “atta-boy” or at least a smile from someone as they walk out the church doors.
- We are visionaries and dreamers who sometimes struggle with how to get from here to there. We know Jesus is building His Church, and we know He has chosen to partner with us, but we regularly wonder, What’s next? And we often have no idea.
Despite my struggles, many imperfections, and frequent mistakes, given the opportunity for a career do-over, I would take the same path.
As a freshman in college, I made a choice. I chose to set aside my fears about pastoring (as a PK, I had some baggage). I chose to overcome my terror of public speaking. I chose to take a path that would never lead me to financial wealth. I chose this life.
And yes, I would choose to be a pastor again.
But in reality, God chose me—a flawed, imperfect, and broken vessel—because He delights in showing Himself strong through the weak, like me—and you.
How cool. How amazing. How just like our God.
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One of the things we have loved most about you, Kurt, is your genuine love for people. It has been a joy to watch from afar all that God has done in and through you.
Love you brother!
Thank you! Love and miss you guys too!
We can definitely relate being in the ministry since the 70s too
Love you and our prayers are with you
Faithfulness is success in Gods eyes
Love your definition of “success” and love you guys!
Broken world, broken people and baggage. Yep! that’s reality. We who are plunked in the pews are still learning, too. We need to practice on our pastors and leaders–saying, texting or e-mailing not only our atta-boys but asking what would encourage, help and spur you on! We need to live out our agape a la Romans 12:9-21 on a regular basis. We still all on this salvation road and will be until we see Jesus face-to-face.
Lord, bless Kurt and the other pastors out there carrying your torch who are bleeding inside for their churche’s pew people. Help us know how to bless them and live out the agape that you purchased by your ultimate sacrifice. Make us aware–when our pastors and leaders are becoming discouraged or unsure and step into the gap. And, of course, make us even more diligent in praying for them. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Thank you, Kay, so appreciate your words and heart.
Being a pastor is definitely one of the toughest jobs out there. So glad you persisted, Kurt!
Yes, sometimes “tough” but always thankful. You are loved, Martha.
Love this!!! As a pastor, i feel the same way!!! I hope that our parishioners understand how hard it really is!!!
Praying for and standing with you, Joel!
🙂 Honored to walk along beside you
Thank you! So grateful for you!
Although I have read most of your posts – this might be the first time I have responded. I am not currently a pastor, but was a youth pastor / associate pastor / lead pastor over the course of my life. I identify with each point you have outlined! Praying this post might get to some of the “newer pastors” out there! You have put words to what most (if not all) are already thinking and wrestling through. Awesome Kurt.
It’s good to hear from you, Grant. You guys are very special to us and loved!
I’m glad too
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