Pastoral Ministry is Hard because I am Selfish.

Erik Raymond —  March 18, 2014

Pastoral ministry is hard and there are a lot of ways that someone can go awry. This is brought to the fore in an article in Christianity Today noting that Mark Driscoll is retracting his best-seller status and “resetting his life.” This due to the fact that controversy seems to be as much a characteristic as blessing in his ministry.

As a pastor you can become inflated with pride and bang your head on the door frame, because you believe the lie that all of the good things that are happening in your ministry are because you are awesome. On the other hand, you can be thrown into the depths of despair because things are not progressing as well as the other guy or whatever your expectations might have been.

The danger on both sides is that our identity, standing, security, approval, etc are based upon us. Attendance is up? I feel good. Attendance down? I feel like a failure. Excitement over ministry? I’m excited. Issues of discontentment or discouragement? Suddenly I’m sullen. You see, pastoral ministry is hard because I am selfish.

I can relate to Driscoll. I don’t agree with everything he says and does but I see how he got where he is right now. And, if you’re a pastor, you should see it too. The idol self-approval is deadly. Whether you have 30 people or 30,000 people in your church, you are prone to this and so am I.

I don’t pretend that all of Driscoll’s issues should be swept under the rug now that he has owned up to some of what has happened. However, I am saying that of all people, pastors should be able to identify with him and be rooting for him to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. This we do while looking to ourselves lest we too be tempted–because we know we already can.

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at

6 responses to Pastoral Ministry is Hard because I am Selfish.

  1. I think this is very well put. God bless your pastor’s heart.

  2. Here’s an idea, we believe that Pastor Mark is a sinner just like the rest of us, he has repented, we believe, because that’s what love does, and we continue to love Mark and pray for him. I love the way you wire by the way.

  3. Sorry , meant to say write not wire

  4. …and the problem with church members is that we make idols of the leaders in our congregations. It will be difficult for those who’ve put so much stock in what he’s about, built their lives around him,etc. unless there is genuine repentance. I understand he has other issues too. May the Lord give us eyes for Christ alone as the Chief Shepherd. Pray for our pastors. Thank you for your openness about this issue–its true, very true.