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Being a leader, in general, requires toughness. Being a pastor, in particular, requires it. A pastor is to have the heart of Jesus and the hide of a rhinoceros.
In a few months, I will have been out of Southwestern Seminary for exactly ten years. As I reflect back on my time in seminary, the number one area that wasn’t discussed enough was how to deal with the issues of overcoming the hard parts of pastoring. I knew there were hard parts, but I didn’t have any training on how to get past or get through them.
- When families leave the church . . .
Whether pastors admit it or not, it hurts our feelings when a family leaves the church. It is not as hard for me as it was when I first became a pastor, but it still stings.
Even if someone says they’re not upset, they say you shouldn’t take it personally, etc., it still hurts and requires mental toughness. I’ve had church members leave for legitimate, healthy reasons, and it still required me to have to take some time to work through it.
The key is to acknowledge it, ask the outgoing family if there is anything the church can do better, learn from them, then move on. This mindset requires intentional toughness. There is a family with whom I did this when I pastored in Lenoir City, TN. The family reached out to me recently and we prayed together over the phone. The man submitted to the call to preach and he said I helped him follow the call.
This phone call, years later, taught me the importance of loving on people as they leave. You never know how it’ll impact them or you.
- When people talk negatively about you or your family . . .
If you dwell on this, it’ll eat away at you. Chasing rumors is like chasing paper in the wind. Most of the time, it is best to just let others defend you.
- When attendance and/or finances are declining . . .
It is hard to not build your self-esteem on how well (or poorly) the church is doing. Think about this objectively. That is a silly thing to do. Your value before God matters so much more than the number of people in the seats or dollars in the offering report. Satan is the one putting it in your head that your self worth varies based upon the attendance and finances.
- When families fall apart . . .
It is heartbreaking when families fall apart. It is hard to fight through it. When this happens, continue to pray for them and give it over to God. Check in with the family members on occasion and continue to express to them that you’re there for them.
- When having to address personnel issues . . .
Handling staff is hard because they don’t always get along with each other or with church members. This is the case for any pastor with a staff.
Pastor: You can overcome the staff issues you’re experiencing. You can work through them. You’ve got this!
Of course, there are more than five areas of mental toughness for pastors. These are just five big ones.
Do you have any additional thoughts on pastors being mentally tough? Let me know in the comment section!