10 Things You Forget About Pastors

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I had the chance to preach at Grace this past Sunday. What a gift it was.

apparently, I said something I thought was funny

And what a hard week it was.

Every time I get the call to preach, I forget just how much work it is to prepare until the Wednesday before I preach on Sunday. It’s at that point, when I’m on my 5th rewrite, my 10th bottom line, and my 4th, “I have no idea what I’m going to say” thought for the week.

In the process of preparing and delivering the sermon yesterday, I realized that there are a few things that people often forget about preachers. In fact, I’ve found exactly 10 things that are often forgotten.

10 Things You Forget about Pastors

1. Preaching is a lot of work.

In fact, it takes me between 20-30 hours to prepare my sermon. On top of that, I still have my normal, weekly responsibilities. Last time I checked, adding 30 hours to a work week was a pretty significant amount. The best sermons take time to marinate. Which means that if you enjoyed the sermon…it probably took longer than normal to prepare.

2. Preaching is stressful.

If you mess up in your job, your boss might get upset with you. If we mess up…God is upset with us. I’d rather get the stink eye from your boss than mine any day. :)

3. Preaching has a lot of moving parts.

We feel the weight of preaching the Scriptures faithfully, in an engaging way, every time. We have to balance humor, theology, and application, making sure to pepper in just the right number of illustrations, but not too many so that people remember the illustration and not the Truth. That’s a lot to balance on a small stage.

4. We don’t always have it all figured out.

We don’t know it all. Or have all of the answers. Or have every truth we’re preaching on mastered. Growing up, I assumed that my pastor knew everything. Now that I’m in that role, I realize that we don’t.

5. We get worn out, too.

Delivering a sermon is physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. Expect that we’ll be pretty zapped afterwards. After all, “they” say that delivering a sermon is equivalent to 8 hours of work.

6. If you tell us some important detail on a Sunday morning, we’ll probably forget it.

Feel free to tell us, but follow that up with an email. We’ll thank you later. It’s not that we don’t care in the moment…it’s that our minds are racing, and we often have hundreds of thoughts and ideas we’re wrestling with.

7. Preaching is a gift, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Some days, it feels more like work. I’d love to say that every time we preach, the heavens open up and God gives us great joy in the preparation and in the delivery. But I’d be lying…sometimes it doesn’t feel like a gift.

8. Criticisms need to wait.

Seriously, if you have a bone to pick, call us on Tuesday. We’ll be in a much better spot to handle criticism then, than on your way out the door on Sunday.

9. We see you texting.

Don’t act like you’ve listened to our sermon…we know better.

10. We have to do it all again next week.

Most preachers preach every week. In fact, most preachers preach on Sunday, Sunday night, and then again on Wednesday night. The work of a pastor is never done.


Have you ever preached? Do any of these resonate with you?





Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.nosuperheroes.com Chris Lautsbaugh

    I agree! Preaching or Teaching can be exhausting! I cannot talk and stand still at the same time, so I log a few miles during the course of a message. When I do a 12-15 hour seminar – wow – marathon time!

    Yes, we see you texting…..and surfing…..and sleeping!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      12-15 hour seminars?!? I might have to start texting at some point in there!

      • http://www.nosuperheroes.com Chris Lautsbaugh

        That’s over a week! If it was a day, I would not be texting, I’d be sleeping! 

        Keep rocking out the quality content Ben

  • http://www.robshep.com Rob Shepherd

    Yes and yes. 

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Which ones resonate, Rob?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=55700059 Zach Powell

    #’s 6 and 8 are ones that cannot be stressed enough. I barely remember what I ate for breakfast before preaching – let alone trying to remember that you told me about your surgery two months away or a student has a recital two weeks away.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      I know, me too, Zach. I have to constantly email myself notes on Sunday so I don’t forget things.

      • http://jerusalemtojericho.wordpress.com/ Sarah McGiverin

        I used to tell the parishioners that if they told me in person and they didn’t see me write it down, to assume that I would not remember. I tried to remember to keep a little notebook and a pen in the pocket of my robe.

        • Allie Edwards

          I often jot down these things as well,but often still don’t remember, so I continue to remind folks that, even if I jot it, I’ll probably forget to check it. I travel to three churches each Sunday to preside and preach. Not even having the important info coming at me after church (or before) is preferable even to jotting it down , for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobbyminor Bobby Minor

    Ben great post. I think most people have no idea what all goes in to preparing and delivering a message. Lol, because I used to do stand up comedy, where it’s normal to call out people from the stage for talking, texting, etc., I had to learn to not do that when I’m preaching (lol, I only did it a couple of times, and none in the past 5 years…) and now I give them the benefit of the doubt and tell myself they’re looking up the text on YouVersion…

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Ha! Didn’t know you used to do stand-up!

      • http://www.facebook.com/bobbyminor Bobby Minor

        Lol, I’ll send you link to a video sometime. I’m a white boy from the hood married to a Puerto Rican…lots to joke about!

    • Doris

      some maybe just writing their notes as my son does ( he is a assist. youth pastor).  and also they use their phones to look up bible verses.  My sister sometime uses it to record the message.

  • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

    Ah number 5, I know you well…

    Great list, Ben.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      #5 was purely a response to how I felt yesterday. Purely.

  • http://twitter.com/adamworkman Adam Workman

    “Every time I get the call to preach, I forget just how much work it is to prepare until the Wednesday before I preach on Sunday. It’s at that point, when I’m on my 5th rewrite, my 10th bottom line, and my 4th, “I have no idea what I’m going to say” thought for the week.”

    This is where I am living right now…and it’s Tuesday, not to mention I felt this way on Monday :)

    Great list Ben!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      I feel for ya, Adam…I’ll pray for you right now, bro!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Smith/1158053319 Robert Smith

    Great list!  Yes to all, but particularly glad to know I’m not alone on #5.    When I’ve said my last ‘Amen’, I feel a less that a weight has been lifted and more like that the strength given me to stand has left.  
    I typically don’t eat prior to sermon time either, which means after I am hungry and sleepy…not a good mix.  Given all that, I would not trade it for the world.  I relish and worry over any opportunity to preach.  I want to ‘do God proud’.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      You and me both, Robert!

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.turner.792 John Turner

    I strenuously object to #9!!  Honestly, I’m looking up stuff on YouVersion!!!!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Sure you are, John. :)

  • Pmpope68

    I didn’t preach, but I served as an elder and I can attest particularly to a couple of these.  Grabbing the pastor or other senior leader involved in worship right before the service with what you think is important, could probably wait.  In this day and age, just take a breath and send an e-mail.  But I think people feel like they’ll get ignored so they stop you anyway.  Either that or people are so starved for being heard that they just want to talk to you for a minute or share this great thing that they just heard, experienced, etc.  It’s best just to respond kindly and ask that they follow up with an e-mail so that you don’t forget.  Hopefully, they will take that as genuine interest and not a brush-off.  

    Criticisms were a biggie.  For a while, we had one couple that made it their duty to approach the pastor in between sermons on an almost weekly basis to dissect his message.  He finally asked that the elders intervene because it was a strain on him.  And this couple we big on holiness, yet were unable to see how their behavior was not very Christlike or considerate.  

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      You’ve got a ton of wisdom. Sounds like you were a huge asset to your pastor.

      Thanks for serving well.

  • http://hearthside-angela.blogspot.com/ Angela

    It is hard to stop the rewrite…if I try to read through a sermon I rewrite it–I don’t know if that’s the nudge of the Holy Spirit or my inner critic but even Sunday morning I am still doing it.

    It would be funny to text while preaching and then watch who has you on their phone go for it.  Just saying…it could be an untapped tool.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Ha! Now that would be funny!

  • Revmom2

    I would point out that many pastors have to do all of this while carrying a full seminary load.  No wonder we look like zombies. 

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Yes. I did just that…seminary and working full-time in a church. It was tough!

  • Deb Lerew

    I remember being a kid and thinking to myself, “I’m going to be a pastor when I grow up.  All they do is read and write sermons and then do church on Sundays.  Easy job!”  Then I grew up and first acted as Director of Christian Ed/Youth Fellowship Advior/Vacation Bible School Coordinator/Sunday School Teacher at my church before heading off to seminary to become a pastor.  I spent a few years doing the supply pastor gig while I was still in seminary–yes, loved preaching, even loved preparing, but it was soooo much more work than I had ever imagined.
    Cirmcumstances, health, and family commitments have intervened and I’m not preaching right now, and I do miss it.  I wonder sometimes how I’ll ever manage it if I do get back into it in the future.

  • Pingback: The Varied Hats a Pastor Wears()

  • Brian Vinson

    They all resonate – this list is spot on. The “criticism can wait” one resonates the most – right after (or between, or especially not right before) the message is not the time for criticism (unless it’s from my wife – if she has something to say, it’s going to be important). 

    The other thing that people forget goes along with #6: don’t grab me right before the message to tell me that your grandma is in the hospital. Not only will I not remember it, but it distracts me from the important job of delivering God’s Word. Write it down and pass it in (that’s why we have those prayer request cards in the pews).

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      “Not only will I not remember it, but it distracts me from the important job of delivering God’s Word.” Wow…that’s so honest, Brian. 

      Thanks for sharing that. 

  • Revfun1

    As I often have said: the most important thing they didn’t teach me in seminary was that there is a Sunday every damn week of the year.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Yeah, they should make sure to remind us of that, shouldn’t they?!?

  • Pastor_terry2003

    I think there could even be a #11… your pastor is there to equip and train YOU (the lay person) to do the work of ministry… not to be the one responsible for it all.

    • Ben Coleman

      Preach it, Pastor!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Yes! That’s a great word. Love it.

  • http://reverendmom.blogspot.com/ Cynthia

    God is not upset with us when we mess up; after all, God forgives us from the get-go.  But a congregation probably would be.  Harder to get the stink eye, as you put it, from a whole group of people.  That you have to love.  Even when you don’t feel like it.  Most people don’t have that in their job descriptions.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Yes, Cynthia. A huge, “YES!”

  • Jackielpd


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=586085161 Valerie Marshall

    I am a lay preacher who only gets to preach occasionally, but I certainly know what you’re saying – it is HARD work preparing and delivering a sermon – quite apart from sorting out an appropriate liturgy to accompany the words …

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Thanks for recognizing it, Valerie. Now go and thank your pastor for the incredible work they put in each and every week!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Susan-Golian/1029976628 Susan Golian

    I’ve preached twice – both times it felt like the sermon got sort of downloaded to me and even then I probably spent 20 hours tightening and editing and rehearsing – all for 20 minutes of talk-time. And yes, both times I was utterly flattened by the end of the 10 o’clock service, having preached at both the 8 and 10. This is a terrific reminder/education about what our pastors go through to bring us their sermons. Good luck and God bless!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Thanks Susan. 

      And thanks for preaching when you got the chance. Keep up the great work!

  • Velad303

    Someone has compared being a preacher to being pregnant and delivering  on Sunday morning and then discovering that you’re pregant again on Sunday afternoon.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      I love that illustration…can I steal it???

  • Godsbeloved317

    Every recipient of preaching should be required to read this, then discuss it in a small group! Great points. And preaching? It is the hardest, most wondrous, most powerful, most tiring and most energizing work in the whole world!!!! 

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Agreed. That’s a great idea. 

      Let me know if you ever lead a small group discussion on this kind of thing. I’d love to hear how it goes!

  • Richard

    I’ve been preaching for 30 years and it is both my duty and delight. It is both gift and grace. Stop whining.

    • Rev Lisa Jo

      I don’t think he is “whining.” It a realistic picture of what happens on a Sunday and what goes into preaching. #5 and #6 are especially important in a small church where they insist on having the meetings right after the service.

      • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

        Yes, Lisa…switching gears right after a sermon is tough. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Mattykj21

      There is always 1 holier than thou type… If your sermons are never hard work, you are not spending enough time on them, not being self-reflective enough, and they probably are not that good…

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Hey Richard,
      Thanks for your years of preaching. I can only imagine how much joy you’ve received through 30 years of preaching.

      I didn’t intend to whine. Not in the least. Just trying to point out a slice of reality that others may not see.

      Keep up the great work, brother!

    • Nathan C. Morales

      Richard, thirty years of preaching and you never came across a verse about being a jerk?

      • Todd Reeder

        Matthew 7 ►
        Aramaic Bible in Plain English
        1You shall not judge, lest you be judged. 2For with the judgment that you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure that you measure, it will be measured to you. 3Why do you notice a chip that is in your brother’s eye, and you do not observe the plank that is in your own eye? 4Or how do you say to your brother, ‘Let me cast out the chip from your eye’, and behold, a plank is in your eye? 5Hypocrite! First cast out the plank from your eye, and then you will see to cast out the chip from your brother’s eye.

  • Tmarsh0307

    One of the most cutting things that I hear from church members is, “I’ve heard plenty of sermons.” It translates that what happens on Sunday Morning (and other times during the week) is not as important as…Fill in the blank with leadership, visitation, outreach, pastoral care or whatever.

    People, the most important thing that the pastor does is preach and teach. No, it’s not the only important thing, but, it is the most important thing. If the pastor’s preaching is not key in a decision whether or not to attend, visit or remain a member of the church, then I question what you are looking for in a church.

    • guest

      I disagree with that 100%.  I am an Associate Pastor in a church and while I love my Senior Pastor dearly, his preaching isn’t the most important thing he does and it is certainly not the main reason I would choose to go to church there, if I didn’t “have to” because I work there.  For me, the church is a family, a body of believers.  It’s not primarily about the pastor, and Sunday morning isn’t even primarily about preaching.  Christian Education, if you do it Sunday mornings, is just as important.  Our expression of worship through the way that we participate in a service is just as important.  If it were all about preaching, I could sit at home and listen to the “famous” preachers online, or read books… but being a member of a church is about SO MUCH MORE than that.  It’s about the body of Christ working together, being the church together.  I know preaching is important, I know it’s hard work (I do it fairly regularly, not every week, but enough to know what a big deal it is), but it’s not the most important thing you do as a pastor.  The word pastor means shepherd – leading people, shepherding people, and caring for your sheep is the most important thing you do.  I’m sorry if this offends you, but the average person in your pew will not remember 10% of what you say from the pulpit, but they will remember EVERY TIME you took the time to visit them, listen to them, pray for them, counsel them, love them.

      • Tom

        I appreciate and very much affirm your passion about caring for the members of the Body of Christ. At the same time, how one defines “shepherding” varies, and the role of pastor (to equip the saints for ministry) also means helping the Body of Christ care for one another.

        It may be true that folks will “remember EVERY TIME you took the time to visit them…,” but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the pastor actually equipping the saints for ministry. For many pastors I’ve known (and I’m not suggesting this is true for you), high levels of personal visitation are how they get their emotional needs met.

        My observations over 20+ years of full-time pastoral ministry is that there are also all kinds of pastors who are focusing on personal visitation (as you’ve described it), and sending a message to the congregation that the “priesthood of all believers” is really just a quaint notion. If we believe–as the Reformers did–that the priesthood is the entire Body of Christ, then it behooves us to live into that reality ourselves. 

        We do not serve the church by overfunctioning in our role (thus leading to under-functioning on the church’s part), even if people we care for remember it and appreciate it.

  • Tom

    Really fun post, Ben…and so true! As a pastor of 20+ years, and one who has preached most of those Sundays, I found myself saying, “Yep…yep…yep…”

    #6 is an interesting one, and I’ll throw out an idea that has worked beautifully for me for many years: When a person says something to me on Sunday morning (often couched in “emergency” language) about needing to talk with me ASAP, I always affirm the legitimacy of their concern, and then specifically ask them to give me a call early in the week when I’m back in my office. I do this because a.) I don’t want to be dismissive of their concern, but b.) what “feels” like an emergency on Sunday (which can simply be a function of the fact that you as pastor are there to talk to) often doesn’t feel like an emergency on Monday or Tuesday. Meanwhile, you haven’t scheduled a meeting with them that becomes either a no-show, or that they cancel. I have yet to find someone objecting to that approach, and it has served me really well through the years.

    I once worked with an interim pastor who stood outside the sanctuary after the service with a “scribe” standing next to him who jotted down all the names and contact information of anyone who expressed a “need” to meet with the pastor that week. He then tasked himself with reaching out to each and every one of them once he was back in the office. That strikes me as very old-school pastoral “sounding,” and really unhealthy–especially as it relates to encouraging congregants to become more personally responsible for their lives, their faith, their personal growth.

    These days I work primarily as a coach with pastors and church governing body leaders (SoundCoaching & Consulting), and love to come alongside ministry leaders who are trying to find their legs in the midst of living out the very things you describe.

    Nice post, Ben!

    Tom Patterson, D.Min.
    Seattle, WA

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Yes, I agree, Tom. I’ve even told people, “You didn’t get to this tough spot in 1 day…so 1 more day won’t break you, either.” I don’t say that in all cases, because some truly are emergencies. But many can wait another day or two, and things won’t be worse on Monday or Tuesday than they are on Sunday.

      It’s hard, though, when things are falling apart. It’s hard to see any light, and it feels like such an “emergency.” Sometimes a reality check that says, “It’s going to be all right. Take a deep breath. Let’s sit down in a couple of days…” can even be hope-giving.

      I love the kind of coaching you offer. Love that idea. I hope that tons of pastors are benefiting from your work.

      Thanks for doing what you do, Tom!

      • Tom

        Thanks, Ben! I only wish I’d found coaching as a resource for pastors many years ago!



    • Roberta Hanscom

      I was not as obviously a “scribe” as you image, but I did stand near the pastor and usually “overhear” the concerns.  As the pastor’s secretary, I triaged what I heard and gave him my take on things on Tuesday (unless it sounded like a true immediate need on Sunday a.m.).  He was wise enough to take Mondays off for R&R.  He trusted my judgment.  Just as I fed him names of parishioners on Sunday which he knew perfectly well when not exhausted from a service, I considered this part of my ministry both to the pastor and the parish.

      • Tom Patterson

        Hi Roberta,

        I know that on countless occasions I’ve relied heavily on people such as yourself who have a sort of “inside track,” and the ability to “triage,” as you put it. That’s kept me (and many pastors I know) from stepping on mines, becoming aware of situations, etc., that I might not have known were in need of attention. I vicariously thank you!

        My concern above is more about the nature of the relationship the pastor believes he or she must have with the congregation, the role he or she must play in relation to their wants and needs, and the effect that (what I call) an “overfunctioning pastor” can have on the congregation–specifically in terms of equipping and empowering them to carry out the role God has given them in caring for one another (which is our job, after all).

        A term that has always given me pause is: “Pastoral Emergency.” It has become such a part of our church vernacular that we’ve come to accept it at face value. One crisis or another is a “pastoral emergency,” and we must know how to reach the pastor (wherever he or she is…whatever he or she is doing at the time). To me, this suggests we still don’t understand the nature of the Body of Christ and the role of the pastor in it. What makes one emergency “pastoral” versus one that is appropriate for any brother or sister in Christ to respond to? I think it’s time we chuck this category all together.

        My mind goes to Acts 6 when the apostles arranged for deacons to serve the neglected Hellenistic widows. It wasn’t that waiting on tables was beneath them. It was a very “good” thing, in fact. It just wasn’t the “best” thing for their particular call–even though that might shock the sensibilities of many pastors today.

        Pastors don’t keep their hands from getting dirty (well…some do, and it doesn’t leave anyone particularly impressed), but they also must recognize that if the church is going to mature, they have to keep their focus on equipping the saints for ministry–not trying to BE the substance of the church’s ministry in their person.

        A great resource for processing some of this stuff is Greg Ogden’s book: Unfinished Business: Returning the Ministry to the People of God.

        Grace and peace,

        Tom Patterson
        Seattle, WA

  • Bro Jody

    That pretty much sums it up….but only all that it takes to prepare and preach on Sundays. There’s also the Bible studies, visits ( homes, hospitals & nursing homes), committee meetings, marriages, funerals, counseling, and taking care of our own families. Plus many of us have more than one congregation to care for. Thanking God for His guidance & strength!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Thanks Jody, for your work. Keep it up!

  • Revsnarky

    I did resonate with many of these, especially #5 and 6.  I am SPENT after I preach, and it’s very hard to explain to people why I look like I’ve just run a marathon when, from their perspective, all I did is stand up and talk for 15-20 minutes.  As for #6, I’ve learned to just be honest about it and ask them to call me or drop me an email reminder.  “I really want to make sure that we talk more about that, but I’m afraid that I’ll forget; can you send me an email to remind me?” works wonders and doesn’t seem to offend people.

  • Guest

    If I had time, I’d feel sorry for you.  Sure it’s a snap being a doctor or surgeon on call.  Or you could be a CPA  on January 1.  Say why not a pilot 30,000 feet up and 300 lives depe3nding on you to get them down.   Everybody thinks they are over worked and under paid.                                                                     

    • pastor

      I don’t think you got the point of the blog. It was not whining. It was explaining.

    • Pastor K

      Thank you, Mr. Snarky, for bringing to light the kinds of people and idiocy that we pastors have to deal with daily.  And thank you again for demeaning our profession. 

      Allow me to clarify a few things for you.  Just like doctors, and for that matter all helping professions, we are on call.  We are ALWAYS on call.  24/7/365.  Emergencies don’t care if it’s late at night, your 10th anniversary, or your annual vacation.  And death rarely happens at convenient times. 

      We may not be licensed CPAs, but we all handle budgets and money.  All year long.  Even on April 15.  And seemingly no matter what the budget issue, we are looked upon to fix it.  Magically.  And we have to have knowledge of state and federal regulations, not just for our churches, but for our own convoluted tax payments.  Because we pay federal and self-employment taxes, in case you weren’t aware….

      Now, I don’t fly a plane, and I don’t intend to learn how.  I don’t have 300 people dangling in mid-air, their fate resting in my hands.  I do, however, have a few suicide interventions in my ministry experience.  I have taken people to hospitals, and domestic violence shelters.  I believe all life is sacred, and just because I didn’t save 300 doesn’t mean I didn’t help at least 1. 

      Pastors go to school for as long, or longer, than most lawyers.  We rack up huge student loan amounts, even into the 6-figures.  We graduate, and begin earning a salary (ha!) that usually puts us at or around the poverty level. 

      We feel called to walk with people during the best and worst times in their lives.  It is a priviledge, and it is exhausting.  And quite frankly, our job is demanding enough without your comments, so please take them elsewhere. 

      God loves you.  I, however, think you’re a bit of an a$$. 

      • Tom Patterson

        Hmmm…sounds like it’s getting kind of hot in here! 

        Ben’s original post struck me as a gentle reminder of what it’s like for those who preach, and strikes me as pretty low on self-pity. Sure, he wants folks to re-familiarize themselves with what it takes to do this every week (as well as other pastoral tasks), but it’s certainly not a whine fest.The above response, however, gives me the impression of someone who has moved into the “RZ” (Resentment Zone). My own thought is that many pastors don’t really know they can establish boundaries for themselves and their families, and they begin resenting people for crossing the boundaries they themselves won’t maintain.It’s true that emergencies don’t care what occasion you might be celebrating. The question is: do you care? The concept of being “on call” 24/7/365 is self-imposed. Sure, there are times that crack even the best boundaries, but isn’t that true for people other than pastors, too? Aren’t there times for everyone when a certain person, a certain tragedy, a certain “unique situation” causes them to break their best laid plans?When pastors make themselves (yes…”make themselves”) the epicenter of the church’s caring and responsiveness, they do the church a huge  disservice by behaviorally devaluing the priesthood of all believers (we are about “equipping the saints for ministry,” not about “BEING the ministry”). Secondly, they communicate to their families that the congregation is more important than they are (want to hear some stories about what that’s like?). And thirdly, it is either symptomatic of, or ultimately leads to, a co-dependent relationship with the congregation–which ultimately matures no one.

        I care deeply about my brothers and sisters in pastoral ministry, but I don’t coddle them when they lament their hardships. I know the hardships firsthand, and I also know the part I’ve played in contributing to them myself.

        And it can get a whole lot better!!


        Tom Patterson

  • Ben Coleman

    Some of us you think are texting have our Bible on our phone….in multiple versions, with study aids, a Strongs Concordance, etc. etc.  Think of us as Bereans checking out what you’re preaching.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      I like that, Ben!

  • buckeyestampR

    I work in a church office; you hit them all but I hope everyone re-reads numbers 6 and 8!!

  • Rishard Rrounds

    You forgot the one that after doing all that work of setting
    up; we end up talking about something alts. That sometimes however is best for
    it seems more God inspired.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      That’s true. Switching sermon ideas mid-stream is tough. Takes a lot of listening to the Spirit, for sure.

  • Marie A.

    Very interesting to know before someone get involved in theological studies

  • Pastor Cathy

    “We see you texting” — they could well be commenting to other people about how good your sermon is, and that they’re missing out.  Never assume. 

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Very true. But if it was that good, they wouldn’t be able to divert their attention away from the sermon. :)

  • Lauren

    First, we all mess up.  Second, God is upset with everyone who messes up God’s work, which in some way is caught up in all work–inside or outside the church.  

  • Tmedlin91

    Yea! Right on, thanks bro! Keep on keepin on!

  • Ron Diana

    Having preached many, many sermons, I have now – with a life-time’s experience, learned the the only message we have from God is the story of his ongoing., infinite and unconditional LOVE. anything beyond that is the product of  our own imaginings – and that is where the trouble starts! 

  • Guest

    My father has been a pastor for almost 10 years now, and let me tell you, all of these are true! So many people are under the illusion that pastors have it easy, that they don’t deserve their pay, that they only work one day a week, etc. But let me tell you, there’s no such thing as a part-time preacher.

  • Alex

    Brother, thank you for sharing your heart.  I appreciate you thoughts.
    May I suggest one thing that I think will truly help take your ministry
    to a new level. I suggest that you stop setting aside 20-30 hours a week
    on a preparing a sermon and instead, shout the gospel in loving action
    of serving others as you reflect God’s love for His creation.

    Its amazing at how many well meaning and God loving pastors spend so
    much time preparing a sermon when preaching a sermon is maybe 5% of your
    job. I would suggest that 95 % of a pastor’s time should be either
    spent in prayer, study of scripture,putting what you learn in that time
    in loving service to others.  I seriously doubt Jesus spent that much
    time preparing for each sermon He gave. I understand the pressure you
    may feel to give a “good sermon” each time you speak. You will be much
    more effective for the Lord and having a larger impact on people if you
    stopped relying on self and rely much more on the Spirit to guide your

    Be encouraged brother when you read Lk 12:11,12 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not
    worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

    Spend the time as suggested and your sermon will come to life because
    you are actually living what most western Christian would call a
    “radical life in Christ”. See Mt 6:25, Mk 13:11

    When brethren spend so much time in preparing a sermon rather than in
    living a sermon it is mostly because of pride. Now I am not saying this
    true in your case but meditate on it and if it is…then simply
    reallocate the time GOD has entrusted to you and do what Jesus commanded
    us in:

    Lk 12:31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

    If I hurt you or offended you I am sorry. Not my intent. Take care and
    may the LORD forever be in front of you as you closely follow him step
    by step. Thanks for serving the body.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Thanks for the encouragement, Alex. I’m not offended.

      This sounds like it’s going to be one of those “agree to disagree” issues.

      Blessings to you as you live out the Gospel!

    • John Leece

      The passage about not preparing to speak was in the context of believers being hauled into court, not to preachers. Its wise and God honoring to study and prepare well before preaching. I believe that is one way we love God with all our heart, soul and mind. We must pray and live our faith and also be diligent in preparing .

  • Josh ERickson

    Love this blog post! #2 and #3 are the biggest ones that hit me. I do NOT envy all the work that my pastor puts into each sermon on TOP of all of the other things he is doing to launch our Church Plant. Number 9 was particularly funny to me as well. At our church we really encourage our people to tweet, use Evernote, and most of our people are using Uversion! We even have people that skype the message so their friends can watch online since we have no video equipment. It can be rather distracting while preaching but VERY encouraging to see all the tweets that people put out there with some of the really good points of the message. It’s nice to know that the work we put in prepping the sermon is reaching people outside the walls of our building.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Good idea for an internet campus, Josh!

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  • Joe Klassen

    Ben, the exhaustion part is the one that rings incredibly true to me. Brother I can not express to people enough how much of my being goes into teaching people about Christ. It doesn’t matter if you are a marathon runner or a couch sitter you will be spent after the fact. I really wish my kids would understand that.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      I feel ya, Joe!

  • http://www.corynikkel.com/ Cory Nikkel

    What about the rebellion if you try something out of the ordinary, especially in a traditional church — are we not allowed to grow, to change things up, and express our creative edge in a new and fun way?

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Hey Cory, I’m not sure that I limited creativity. If I did, I didn’t intend to. I love trying things out of the ordinary to grow and change in new and fun ways. Love it!!

      Or maybe I misunderstood your comment. ??

  • Christina Berry

    One more: Five minutes before the worship service starts is not a time to raise an important burning issue with the preacher. It is not the time to raise ANY issue!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Great add, Christina!

  • Karen Delgado

    I just noticed my sister shared this on FB with my mom…and asked her to share it with our dad….he is 77 years old and continues to preach the Gospel faithfully. After “retirement”, he accepted a “part-time” position in a small church who cannot afford a full time pastor. As “PKs” (pastors’ kids) we both resonated with this list….and could probably add a few more. Pastors are people, too! Be kind to your pastor…his concern is for your soul.

  • Starla Anne Lowry

    Yes, I have preached. It is disappointing when I have tried my best to follow the Lord’s guidance in a message and someone will make an issue out of one point that was insignificant. I had my ups and downs, too, and have made mistakes. The church need to understand that, although we are God’s appointed messengers, we are human and sometimes we get our own self in the way of delivering exactly what we should.

  • Bex Lewis

    Interesting, thanks, although please be aware that #9 – if it was me, I’m probably tweeting bits of “your” sermon, and far more engaged than if I’m staring into the air. For me, using my phone is because it’s what I have with me, whereas I rarely remember to carry a notebook! Taking notes is when I started to engage…

  • revla

    I think the most courageous move I’ve made in a sermon was (in a sermon on lying) to skip across the chancel while singing “She sees you when you’re sleeping, she knows when you’re awake….” We aren’t blind.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      That’s awesome!! Keep being courageous!!

  • John Leece

    I would push back a little on your notion of God being less forgiving of mistakes than other people’s bosses.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      I wrote that tongue-in-cheek, John. :-)

      • John Leece

        That’s good to know! I think we should be cautious with our words, however. This view of God is one many people hold. Some profess this theology and many more live in a way that reveals this belief.