"So, I know you preach on Sunday, but what do you do the rest of the week?"
If you're a pastor than you've been asked this question on multiple occasions. Is it just me, or does it seem that people only ask this question on the particularly hard weeks when almost anything sounds better than writing another sermon, walking through another crisis, or watching yet another person ignore the clear counsel of God's Word and thus shipwreck their life? In truth, while pastoral ministry is (in my biased opinion) the most amazing job on the planet, it is also one of the most difficult.
One of the many things that makes it difficult is the multiple hats that a pastor must wear in the very same week and often on the very same day. In what other vocation do you have to be a visionary leader on one day and holed up like a hermit to study the next? By my count their are at least 5 hats every pastor must wear on a weekly, if not daily basis.
1. Pastor as Scholar
While not all pastors are equally gifted intellectually, all of us must spend time studying God's Word on a weekly basis. This means studying historical context, original languages, and reading any number of commentaries. For me, this means spending three hours on Mondays pouring over the text, two hours on Tuesdays writing an overview and planning a service around that text, two hours on Thursdays studying for upcoming sermon series, and an entire day hiding in my office on Fridays grappling with and being gripped by the text. In short, your study is never complete until your sermon is finally preached.
2. Pastor as Teacher
It's one thing to be able to understand and even explain a passage of Scripture, but it's something entirely different to preach a sermon people find clear, compelling, and helpful. This means a pastor must labor just as diligently in his presentation as he does in his preparation.
3. Pastor as Leader
It requires a particular frame of mind to spend much of your life in study. One of the most challenging parts of pastoring for me is being in deep study one moment and then having to be a visionary leader in the next. After a few hours with my face in a book I'm so fried I struggle to lead myself to coffee, much less lead a meeting in a way that's coherent.
4. Pastor as Counselor
A pastor must not only be able to carry a crowd, but also be able to meet with people one-on-one. This is hard for me. Preaching is far more comfortable than counseling. It takes a high level of intentionality on my part to ensure I listen to and not just preach at the people I meet with.
5. Pastor as Coach
Whether it is staff members, other pastors, or ministry team leaders, every pastor is coaching others. This requires that he lift his eyes off of his own challenges and ask God for the wisdom to help someone else discern his, or her way through their own.
Many professions require you to wear one, or maybe even two of these hats, but pastoral ministry is one of the only vocations I can think of that necessitates all five. So here's my point: If you're a pastor, you are not alone. Remember that though your job is difficult, it is also a demonstration of God's great grace toward you. And if you're not a pastor, but attend a church, pray for your pastor and ask that God would help him wear each of these hats well.