All-star Cleveland Cavalier Kyrie Irving once told the sports media that he believes the earth is flat. He insists he has done the research and has rejected the propaganda deployed against us to convince us that the earth is round. When asked about it, Lebron James responded, “Kyrie is my little brother. He’s my All-Star point guard, superstar point guard, and if he decides he wants to say the Earth is flat, so be it. He’s an interesting guy, and he believes it.” Because Kyrie believing the earth is flat doesn’t really impact how he lives (or plays the game), his misconception is reported as funny news and not a big deal.
But some misconceptions deeply impact how we live and treat one another. Some misconceptions must be corrected.
Here are five misconceptions about pastors, some of which are dangerous and greatly impede the ministry of a local church. In other words, they are not insignificant misconceptions.
1. They mainly work on Sundays.
“So what do you do, umm, you know, during the week?” is a question every pastor has been asked. And while Sundays are typically a full day of investing in others, whether preaching or leading in another capacity, they are definitely not the only day pastors work. The burden for people is not something pastors leave at the church building when they go home on Sundays. The role is continual.
2. They don’t get “the real world.”
If you lead in ministry, you have likely heard something like, “In the real world, we do it this way,” as if life in ministry is a life devoid of the challenges of “the real world.” In reality, ministry leaders daily face the implications of a fallen world. Daily the brokenness of this real world reminds ministry leaders that there is much to do.
3. They have it easy.
Pastors in the States don’t suffer like many pastors around the world suffer, specifically pastors in places where the Christian faith brings heavy persecution. But pastors who care for people do not have it easy. In a letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul listed his struggles and sufferings. The list is intense, including five floggings, three beatings with rods, a stoning, and being shipwrecked. He continues…
On frequent journeys, [I faced] dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the open country, dangers on the sea, and dangers among false brothers; labor and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and lacking clothing (2 Corinthians 11:26-27).
But notice how Paul concludes the list of his struggles. It is as if he is saving the greatest burden he would face for an exclamation point type of ending, the crescendo to his list of concerns:
Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? (2 Corinthians 11:28-29)
The burden Paul faced in his concern and love for the church was continual and intense. And this burden was the conclusion to his list of burdens. When leaders continually long for people to encounter the grace of God, ministry is never easy.
4. They don’t struggle like others.
I was ordained as a pastor just weeks after I got married, so I have been in ministry my entire married life. When I asked my wife what some common misunderstandings are, all of her answers revolved around this misconception, which means she knows I struggle. She knows, all too well, that I am not perfect, that the Lord is still sanctifying me. Sadly, when people think ministry leaders don’t struggle, they set themselves up for disappointment with those imperfect leaders. We must not place expectations on ministry leaders that can only be met by Jesus—the only perfect Prophet and Priest.
5. They have a more direct line to God.
Of all the misconceptions, this one is the most dangerous. The Scripture teaches that all believers are priests—that all believers have full access to God and are honored to serve in His name. When people believe pastors have a closer relationship with God, they fail to appreciate His grace that has qualified them. And they fail to grasp the privilege and responsibility they have to serve others.