Never in nearly three decades of being a senior pastor have I known those in my profession to be more battered and beleaguered. Thousands leave the ministry annually. Rarely a week goes by that I don't hear of another church conflict or forced termination.
Statistics back this claim, as a recent Gallup Poll revealed that the clergy has fallen to a favorable rating of only 42 percent of those surveyed. At least we still rank above lobbyists, car salesmen and members of Congress.
Despite the decline and doom, I contend that being a pastor is the best job in the world. Here are 10 reasons why.
1. We get paid to study the Bible and prepare messages.
Obviously, money had nothing to do with the career path I've taken. Nevertheless, I'm filled with gratitude for being able to make a living at something I would be doing even if I weren't in full-time vocational ministry.
2. We're dealing with matters of eternal significance.
As ministers, we are continually meeting people at that critical crossroads between heaven and hell. What a privilege and responsibility it is to equip the saints in this life, as well as preparing them for the one to come.
3. We get more opportunities for evangelism.
Though I'm overjoyed when laypeople lead others to the Lord, I never grow weary of being a part of someone's salvation experience. In fact, I feel conviction and get restless if too much time passes between such encounters.
4. We enjoy a flexible schedule.
Sure, our down time is limited. It seems as though we have to be "on task" 24/7. This arrangement, however, affords us more chances to run errands, get work around the house, meet family demands, etc.
5. We get ministry expansion possibilities.
This website is a prime example. Also, in addition to numerous articles, radio spots and newspaper columns, I've self-published eleven books since 2004, which would have never happened had I not been a pastor.
6. We minister to people at significant points in their lives.
It's not that I like hanging out at funeral homes and hospital ERs. Nevertheless, it is exhilarating to connect with and minister to people when life matters most—births, baptisms, graduations, weddings, family crises, sicknesses, funerals and so forth.
7. We get to preach.
I'm amazed the number of people who fear public speaking. I thoroughly enjoy gaining people's attention bringing forth the Word, especially when I know I've come prepared and am speaking under the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit.
8. We have more opportunity to develop spiritual disciplines.
Now, more than ever, I feel the need to model Jesus and "withdraw to lonely places and pray" (Luke 5:16). The time and places are there, if only I exercise discipline and take advantage.
9. We have a voice in the community.
After nearly 18 years at my previous church, I became minister of the community as well as the congregation. This opens doors for civic clubs, local events, board appointments, school events, and the like.
10. We can go on mission trips and enjoy other travel options.
I was able to go to Israel for the first time last year with a pastors-only group. I've also participated in numerous stateside and international mission trips, most of which I could not have done had I not been a pastor and received support from the church.
Upon becoming a pastor in 1990, I figured I'd eventually move into a denominational position or one with some other para-church organization. Twenty-eight years later, that hasn't happened, because God wants me right where I am.
There are days when I want to throw in the towel. Sometimes it seems as though I'm just spinning my wheels and going through the motions. But isn't that true with any job? What higher calling could there be than preaching the gospel and shepherding God's people? It's the best job in the world.
This article originally appeared at lifeway.com.
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