The Complicated Calling of a Pastor

Today my husband Chad and I drove across the wide open spaces of our part of Texas, sometimes chatting amiably, sometimes watching the scenery go by in silence. He spent time listening to speculation about his beloved Dallas Cowboys on sports radio while I dozed in the passenger seat. And at one point we spent a few minutes thinking and talking about our life and the interesting turns it has taken through the years. We never knew that we would wind up here, twenty years into our marriage, happily answering God’s call in our little town. Yet, here we are. God has been so gracious to bring us here where life is simple. The commute to anywhere in our town is four minutes. Trips to our local grocery store are bound to take awhile because there will be friends inside to talk to. Our world doesn’t revolve around money or cars, fashion or fancy houses. Our life here is beautiful and small and unique.

There is a certain simplicity to it. Yet, through the years we have learned just how complicated a pastor’s calling really is.

As people, Chad and I are irrevocably intertwined with others. We are likely to hear deep, dark secrets which we hold close, not even allowed to share many things with each other. We are entrusted with some of people’s most delicate admissions and live through some of their darkest hours with them. Our life is simple in so many ways. Yet, our life is about people, and people are anything but simple. We are complicated creatures filled with all kinds of surprising and delightful and shocking and sad secrets. Every room is at the same time a crowded collection of interpersonal struggles and warm friendships, family strife and sin struggles and amazing examples of God’s grace and mercy.  As a pastor’s family, we get a front row seat to all of it.

I have seen Chad carry the heavy burden of failing marriages and sudden deaths, of children with no heat in the dead of winter. I have seen him try to be the ultimate problem solver while problem after problem is laid before him. I have heard his prayers for the many people on his heart and mind at midnight when he should be sleeping.

And while all of this is going on, still he wrestles with his own spiritual battles. Still he studies and tries to flee temptation and undertakes the difficult task of dealing with difficult people, precious people, kind people, and mean people, all while begging the Holy Spirit to keep him from sin. To give him the mind and eyes of Christ. Still he feels the weight of his next sermon, always bearing down no matter what else is happening in his life or the lives of those who need him at any given time.

These aren’t things that pastors can really talk about with the rest of us. They carry a unique load, and one that isn’t easily understood by those of us who don’t bear their responsibilities. It’s a complicated calling.

Chad and I thank God every day for this simple, complicated life. We thank Him for the complicated people who have been entrusted to our care, and we thank Him for the simple message of the gospel, which can cut through the most complicated of circumstances. One thing we have learned in these pastoring years is that every complicated situation really comes down to just one thing: we all need Jesus. Watching Him work in the middle of even the most difficult and crazy circumstances proves it to us over and over again–Jesus is the real problem solver. A simple truth for a complicated calling.