les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Moaning ministers and the Banner of Truth

There's quite a debate on at the moment.

Some men say that being a pastor is by far the best job in the world, that being able to manage your own time, eat with your family, avoid the grind of the daily commute, plunge yourself into things you love doing, be paid to read, think, pray and talk to people, that really it's a dream come true.

And they're undoubtedly right.

Others point out that it also means being on call 24 hours a day, constant deadlines, seeing people at their worst, facing criticism and opposition that you rarely get in the secular workplace along with responsibilities, stresses and strains that few others see.

And they're doubtless right, too.

I had the privilege of working in the information technology industry for about 11 years before going into pastoral ministry. It is true that there were moments of great stress - implementing large changes to databases over long hours at the weekend - I remember getting home at 2am and needing to be in work again at 6am. It is true that I had bosses who were wonderful people and who made my job much easier, but I also had one who detested me - I later found out it may well have been because of my faith. I was sometimes on call - I carried a pager. That was a laugh! The one time they called me out it failed to wake me.

However; generally once I left the office the working day was over. I was free. I often left the office and went straight to the prayer meeting or whatever, but the work/rest cut-off was palpable. Working at home is not like that.

I've seen atrocious behaviour in churches and on the mission field that would never be tolerated in the workplace.

And I don't think I was ever in physical danger at work - I suppose I coud have done myself a mischief that day we had to drag the computer up the stairs because the lift was broken - whereas I can immediately think of a couple of occasions where I felt distinctly unsafe in pastoral ministry.

Here's my perspective. On my travels in the UK recently I met lots of pastors who are or have recently been on leave because of stress-related illness, or are taking anti-depressants, or are struggling in one way or another.

The apostle Paul's example is a help. He seldom talks of the price he paid for his ministry. But it was there, nevertheless. People close to him knew about it and tried to help. And sometimes he would open up and write about it. But generally he still served with a great sense of joy.

We can't just deny the problems we face. What good is that? How does that help anyone or honour the Saviour?

But we are wrong to blow it out of perspective, too. Yes, troubles come. Yes, people may need to take extended periods of rest. Yes, people may need psychiatric help. But the work is worth the price you pay.

1 comment:

Gary Brady said...

That's a really balanced and helpful article Alan. You ought to polish it up and get it published somewhere else.