The Christian Post has reported on the “Ten Hard Questions Pastors Must Ask Themselves.”
“The average pastoral career lasts only 14 years and 1,500 pastors leave their assignments every month in the United States because of conflict, burn-out, or moral failure, according to the Christian research group, The Barna Group. In light of burdening difficulties pastors face, Thomas S. Rainer, founder of a successful consulting firm for churches, wrote out ten questions pastors should ask themselves before giving up.”
Unfortunately, the almost universal buy-in to the senior pastor oriented paradigm leads them to ask all the wrong questions. When one gets a grasp on the true plurality of elder paradigm pictured in the NT, the correct questions will be addressed – questions which demonstrate that pastors have brought on themselves added stress and burnout by virtue of elevating their status to one of privilege rather than servanthood:
10) Did God intend for my family (my wife and my children) to be in such a unique status that we live our whole lives in a fishbowl of intense pressure and public inspection? (Under the plurality model, a number of elder families would be in the same status – thus mitigating the pressure.)
9) Did God intend for my name to be on the church monument sign which points the community to the church’s identity? (Under the plurality model, a church would not be identified as Pastor X’s church . . . but the headship of Christ would be more truly pictured.)
8) Did God intend for my ordination to be completely different in nature and level of difficulty from that of the other ruling elders in the church? (Under the plurality model, all elders would be recognized on the same basis – regardless of their area of giftedness.)
7) Did God intend for me to find my closest friends outside of the confines of my local church so that I would not get too close to specific individuals and be accused of showing favoritism? (Under the plurality model, there would be more effective discipleship and development of close friendships within the local church itself rather than a dependence on some outside networking of senior pastors.)
6) Did God intend for me to candidate for my professional profession by packaging up my gift of oratory before a congregation that has very little familiarity with my personal life and character traits? (Under the plurality model, one would prove themselves by serving in the local church context before being recognized . . . with the emphasis always being on the character qualities stressed in the Pastoral Epistles.)
5) Did God intend for me to not even be a member of my local church because of my elevated membership in some form of presbytery or higher church council? (Does this make sense to anyone?)
4) Did God really call me to a lifetime of paid professional ministry regardless of my church’s needs or situation? (How does this concept of “calling” – which sounds more like volunteering – mesh with the biblical concept of recognizing elders?)
3) Did God really intend for me to be the primary visionary to set the direction for the church and provide the type of monolithic leadership we see modeled by OT hero figures?
2) Did God intend for me to provide the prime leadership in the areas of evangelism and counseling and visitation – despite whatever my specific gifts might be?
1) Did God intend for me to do the bulk of the preaching . . . even if that is not my primary area of giftedness?
Am I surprised at the conclusion of survey data that points to incredibly high levels of stress and burnout?