After a dozen years as a youth pastor and six years as a church planter and Lead Pastor, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Part of that process involved being honest about what I truly wanted, which made me wonder if more pastors don’t have these secret desires, too.. Here’s my humble list of three things every pastor secretly wants:
1. A Pastor Wants a Best Friend
For a period of a few years, I was a conference junkie – I even kept the lanyards hanging on the back of my office door. After a while, I realized that most conferences were the same and started pursuing coaching relationships. I learned that I could pay money to have people who were getting it done mentor me and show me how to reach the next level. While this was a step in the right direction, it still fell short.
Coaching is greater than conferences. But friends are greater than coaches.
I didn’t have a best friend in ministry, and that wasn’t anyone else’s fault but my own. Sure, I had people who wanted to learn from me, and I had people who said they wanted me to let them in, but I was skeptical.
More than anything, I’m convinced that what pastors need is what pastors want. Not a fake system of accountability that keeps up appearances, but a real friend or two who could handle any amount of crap. If a pastor is struggling with something, he needs to talk to someone that can’t fire him. He needs someone who will get in his face, but not throw him out on the street. That’s a friend.
2. A Pastor Wants Financial Security
I believe there’s something in the heart of a man that wants to provide for his wife and children. And answering the call of God to communicate the Gospel or lead a church doesn’t erase that deep desire to love, protect and provide.
My first full time job in ministry was in South Florida, and I made less than public school teacher. That was fine for a youth pastor with no kids, but once I had a family, it wasn’t going to work. Sadly, that meant no longer working at that church. And for the next ten years, I scrapped by, earning enough to live a comfortable life but setting aside nothing for retirements. I was able to travel and attend conferences, but my wife and kids missed most of that.
I secretly wanted to be a better provider for my family. I wanted the freedom to send my kids to a good summer camp (not just the free VBS) and I wanted to attend and buy my wife some new furniture for the house. I never went into ministry at the age of 18 to make a lot of money, but there were times when I didn’t want it to be so dang hard.
I’ve struggled with whether or not to write something like “Five Things Pastors Could Do to Earn More Money” because I don’t want to be misunderstood. But in general, I believe pastors need to earn a little more money so they can make decisions on what’s best for the church and what’s best for their family, not what’s necessary for their survival.
3. A Pastor Wants Respect
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says every woman has a deep need for love and every man has a deep need for respect. This was true for me. I wanted to be respected in my profession and in my home. I wanted the people in my church to respect me as a leader. I wanted the people in the community to respect me as a legitimate contributor. And I wanted the rest of the church world to respect my ideas and experience on how things should be.
But even deeper than that, I wanted my wife and kids to respect me as a husband, father and provider. There’s a great irony in this because my family was never impressed by my accomplishments. My wife and kids weren’t impressed buy the amazing meeting I had, the pastor of the mega-church who called seeking advice, or the brilliant paragraph I wrote for a message. I was recognized for accomplishments at work, but these accomplishments didn’t earn me much respect in the home. It seems like my kids just wanted me to read them a story and my wife wanted my undivided (aka no phone) attention.
There’s a fine line between seeking the approval of man and wanted to be respected for what you do. And looking back on my six years as a church planter and Lead Pastor, I think a healthy desire for respect too easily morphed into a hunger for attention. But nevertheless, that respect was a real desire.
Looking back, one of the healthiest things that could have happened was for my secret desires to become my open desires. My hope is this post would encourage you to openly admit what you want – whether or not it sounds spiritual.