A Former Pastor’s Regret

There’s nothing to applaud here. Applause should be reserved for the pastors who have seen this and pastored accordingly. I’m sure some do it by instinct. I was not among them and that’s why there’s regret.

I never really understood the difficulty of living the Christian life in the real world, outside of vocational ministry. My experience of working outside vocational ministry was in part time jobs and one full-time on the way to Seminary. So that may be part of it. But I’m not sure I can lay the cause at the feet of ignorance alone.

Loving the people I ministered to seemed secondary. I would have never admitted it but that’s most likely part of what was the problem. I wanted to see them do things that justified my ministry more than I wanted to love them.

I did love them. It’s not that I didn’t. But I’m not sure it bothered me when I didn’t show it or feel it.

And so I was not very compassionate about the difficulties of living out the Christian life when you’re not a pastor. 

It would not be fair to say I would do this or not do that. But generally speaking, I’d like to think I’d be more gracious about what they did with their time and money. I’d like to think I would be more tender in my speech. And I’d like to think I’d be slower to speak and quicker to listen.

But again, I can’t say I would do those things.

Now that I’m working in a bank, these regrets are easy. It’s easy for me see the struggle because I’m in the middle of it. I can understand wanting to stay home on a weeknight with my family. I can understand the need for a word of peace instead of having my toes stood upon. I loved stepping on toes more than comforting the heart. I should have been more patient with the bruised reeds.

It’s easy to say that now because I am one. I’m in a job I’m terrible at and my days seem long and repetitive. My comforts are lunch, instant messages, and conversations with the security guard. How many people did I speak to, counsel with, and preach at who struggled as I do now?

I just wanted to hit home runs as a teacher/preacher.

A pastor’s job is hard too. And I always wanted people to see that. I just wasn’t all that in tune with the difficulties of those I was pastoring. I saw the dangers they needed to be aware of. I saw the temptations. And I could see their faults in technicolor.

But what should have made me lean into my calling -their faults and needs and fears and struggles and pains – far too often all that was just fuel thrown on an already burning desire to control and change them.

So I regret it. I wish I’d known then what I know now.

6 thoughts on “A Former Pastor’s Regret

  1. Anonymous April 16, 2012 / 1:31 pm

    Could also be titled "A young pastors regret". Your ministry was very powerful in changing young people's lives. I can think of several who are white hot for Jesus right now as a result of the way God used you. So, this is just another example of God accomplishing his purposes through his not-yet-glorified children. And, if you went back to full time ministry right now, you may get this part right, but struggle in other ways that you wouldn't be able to see until 10 years from now. That blog entry would be "A mid-career pastors regret". Please reconsider your regret and just repent. Repent and give yourself over to wonderment that your Father in heaven used you in spite of yourself. He is the King on the throne and he used you!JG

  2. John Pond April 16, 2012 / 2:15 pm

    I hope to never read about how your ministry "was". It still is. Do not underestimate how this little blog can minister to the minister. My wife and I talk about this a lot. Preachers need to be preached to, it's common knowledge to us but still we need it. My wife thinks highly of this importance, I know she would think highly of you! Keep preaching to me!-John Pond

  3. Noel April 16, 2012 / 4:46 pm

    Thank you for this post.

  4. Matt Blick April 16, 2012 / 5:23 pm

    Amen. I could see your regrets and raise you a few more…I think mine have to do believing there was one answer to sin, weakness and doubt and it was 'more information/better theology'. Now I find myself in a position where I don't need any more information … but some christian friendship and honest conversation might work wonders. Thanks for walking through this with us

  5. The Blog bites better than the Bullet. April 19, 2012 / 9:21 pm

    Saw this on a different blog and my comment was "wow that's good." Really helps to hear this said- glad to be in a church now where the pastor has worked other jobs in the past and "gets it", but I have been burnt in the past elsewhere by pastoral expectations. Am sure to your congregation you weren't as bad as you feel, but thanks for sharing- means a lot.

  6. Anonymous April 23, 2012 / 6:58 pm

    Hmmm, regret. Regret is not remorse and humility.Which most pastors lack. Some of what you discribed about your pastoring sounds very narcissistic. This is typical in the church.Whether you are a pastor or not.

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