Reader’s Digest runs an ongoing series revealing a baker’s dozen of insider secrets from people who touch our everyday lives. These “Won’t Tell You” exposés include:
(Here’s one of my favorites from What Your Pilot Won’t Tell You: #4. There’s no such thing as a water landing. It’s called crashing into the ocean.)
For many years I served as a pastor in a handful of churches. I’ve pranced in front of the masses and hunkered down with the elders; I’ve officiated at everything from baptisms to weddings and seen the best and worst sides of organized religion.
Many of my friends are still in pastoral ministry. A few of us have conspired to tell you some things your pastor might not:
1. Most of us had to earn a seminary degree to get into ministry but we don’t use much from the classroom. We learn by trial and error on the job.
2. We’re not in it for the money. Few of us earn enough to keep the Debt Monster at bay. We do get a break from the IRS on housing allowance, though. And we seldom have to pick up the check at restaurants.
3. More pastors are “called” to churches in California, Florida and Hawaii than to Nebraska, Minnesota and North Dakota. The conferences we most often attend are also in warmer climes.
4. It’s not funny when you joke about us only having to work one day a week. We’re lucky if we get one day off.
5. Pastors should be held to a higher standard of behavior but don’t expect perfection. Unrealistic expectations will cause us to hide who we really are from you.
6. We don’t like to preach on tithing, although the average parishioner gives just 2% of his or her income. (This is the same percentage the average church gives to international missions.)
7. The greatest gift you can give us is friendship; 80% of pastors say they have no one they trust completely.
8. We are frustrated by people who arrive ten minutes late for the service and then complain if the sermon runs five minutes over.
9. We make our wives pick up the R-rated movies at Red Box.
10. Church growth is often a key factor in our job evaluation. We know most of it comes from people switching churches and not from new converts.
11. We might not be here long; 78% of new pastors leave the vocation within five years.
12. Caring for people can be draining. We need time to rest and recharge. We wish you would respect our time off and evenings with the family.
13. We don’t have all the answers.