Presbyterian Pastor Alexander Lang caused quite a stir recently when he published his blog, “Departure: Why I Left the Church.” Lang never imagined how many hits he’d get when, with full transparency, he laid out the pressures and unrealistic expectations of the pastorate.
One commenter wrote, “Whiner.” He hasn’t walked in Alexander’s shoes. I have, maybe not in his specific circumstances, but I can certainly relate.
Lang joined what researcher George Barna called the Great Pastor Resignation that followed the pandemic. His national survey of pastors found, as of March 2022, 42% considered quitting because of these top five reasons: the immense stress of the job; loneliness and isolation; current political divisions; the effect of pastoring on the pastor’s family; and “not optimistic about the future of my church.”
If a pastor claims he’s never had a moment in which he asks God, “Is there anything else I can do?”, he’s the rare exception.
Somehow, by the grace of God, I’ve served a total of 42 years in fulltime Christian service, 38 of those years in three pastorates. It’s not been easy, but it has been rewarding. Here are seven reasons why I hang in there:
I couldn’t. Other vocations caught my attention, and I explored other avenues, but God kept drawing me back to ministry. Then that call to ministry evolved into God’s call to the pastorate. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
I still can’t, though some days I’m tempted to try. Yet, God’s call remains.
Most of them have loved this imperfect pastor, also, warts and all.
I’m blessed with a very attentive and responsive congregation. They carefully follow along, fill in the blanks on the sermon notes, and take the challenge to heart. I enjoy the rhythm of the week that leads to another Sunday and another chance to preach.
I had a hard time placing them as that pastorate was over 24 years ago. However, he wrote, “Out of all our pastors we have had, we have always held you in the highest esteem and we continue to speak fondly of our time with you as our pastor.”
I called, and the mom shared how much my ministry meant to her family during those years. I pray I’ve made a difference in someone’s life along the way. And I pray God has used me to enlarge the population of heaven.
Pastoring is not for the faint of heart, but, overall, it’s a joy and I love what I do.
David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, GA. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org for online viewing options and more information. Visit www.davidchancey.com to see more of Chancey’s writings, including his books.