Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Ways To Guarantee Ministry Frustration

Every pastor has had a frustrating day.  A frustrating week.  A frustrating season.

But how can your typical pastor turn frustration from an episode into a way of life?

Voila!  Top Five Ways To Guarantee Ministry Frustration.  Because life’s too long really to enjoy, isn’t it?

1.  Compare Yourself With Others.  At most United Methodist meetings, I feel pretty sure of myself.  I have a record, a platform, some friends, and even a reputation.  However, put me at an event like the upcoming C3 Conference (, and I’m likely to feel decidedly unhip and ineffective.  All in all, it’s the wrong comparison.  There is always someone struggling more than you are . . . and just as surely, there is someone else accomplishing things you’ve never even contemplated.  In the grandest of theological terms, there’s only one comparison that really counts anyway:  “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” 

2.  Minimize Your Successes.  When someone compliments you, immediately say, “oh, it was all God.”  When a plan works well, chalk it up to luck.  When you have a breakthrough with someone in counseling, make sure you remember that that doesn’t help worship attendance figures one bit.  In fact, when anything good happens, don’t take time to mark it and celebrate it.  Move on.

3.  Take It All Personally.  It really is all about you.  That irrational anger that people vent towards you?  The same kind they’ve vented towards their last three pastors?  It really has nothing to do with their issues, their family histories, their own workplace frustrations.  It has to do with you preaching and your leadership, or lack thereof.  Make sure you don’t ever step back and assess what really motivates people’s behavior.

4.  Always Work On Your Weaknesses.  Strong in counseling but not in the pulpit?  Preach harder!  Good at speaking but not great at leadership?  Read more John Maxwell (rhymes with “More Cowbell!”)!  Bad bedside manner?  Take another semester of CPE!  Your strengths?  Ignore them.  They’ll always be there.

5.  If You Are United Methodist, Depend On the Denomination To Provide You With Ideas, Direction, And Motivation.  You can’t question that 47-year track record, can you?