By Ryan Rice
I enjoy watching sports documentaries. Not every athlete’s story is the same, but hard work is a clear thread that runs through each story.
Some of the best sports documentaries are those of the unlikely hero, the underdog. Their hard work elicits our admiration and praise.
The underdog may not be the best player on the team, but no one outworks them or matches their dedication to their sport. Coaches desire this type of work ethic—where athletes keep their heads down, don’t complain, and won’t stop until they’ve given their all.
This is the picture I get when I think of pastors—servants who work diligently, give their all, and aren’t lazy.
When I first started the church planting journey, someone told me, “Don’t be lazy.” After I received the same advice from two other people, I asked if this was a common trait among church planters and pastors.
Yes, I was told, a few bad apples do spoil the bunch. However, this doesn’t tell the real story of what pastors experience on a daily basis.
No matter how hard the pastor preaches, serves, or visits, it’s never enough. Some will even go as far as to say pastors need to find “real jobs.”
There’s an ugly myth that pastors are lazy. It’s a myth that needs to die. Here are three reasons why.
1. Pastors Put in Many Hours.
According to Lifeway Research, 84% of pastors say they’re on call 24 hours a day. Pastors are often the first people to get to the church and the last to leave.
The emails, calls, and messages don’t end after Sunday’s message. Additionally, many pastors hold two or three jobs. They find themselves juggling many responsibilities along with pastoring.
2. Preparing to Preach Takes Time.
Sure, some pastors in America practice what they call a “Saturday night special”—a hurried put-together message that received little prep or thought.
But pastors called to preach and teach the Word of God take their calling seriously. They know they’ll give an account to the Lord for what they taught and the people they shepherded.
When pastors get up to preach, they’ve already spent time praying, studying, and preparing to divide the Word of God rightly.
3. Leading at Home and Church.
In 1 Timothy 3:4, Paul says one of the qualifications of an elder is that, “He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity.”
So, the pastor is not only called to lead well at the church, but also at home. And when pastors are taking time to minister to their kids or their spouse, it’s time well spent.
Resting in Christ
Most pastors know they work hard, but live under unrealistic demands they place on themselves. Instead of resting and abiding in Christ, many pastors plow with their heads down out of fear someone will call them lazy. This can lead directly to an unhealthy grind, undue stress, and burnout.
Pastor, you may feel like the underdog, but the end goal isn’t to have a documentary made of your life. Instead of trusting in how hard we can work and proving everyone wrong, let’s rest in Christ’s finished work and in what He’s done.
RYAN RICE, SR. (@ryanricesr) is husband to Seané, father of Ryan, Jr., Brayden, Reagen, and Bailey, and has been in ministry since 2007. He’s currently the lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans, Louisiana, which they planted in 2014.