A Day in the Life of a Pastor

May 16, 2012
Cover Expressions
How to lead a virtual bible study
Post Quarantine Church

It’s Thursday morning. Pastor Doug has a clear calendar, an aberration in his busy schedule. Actually, the calendar is not really clear; he has set aside time to finish his sermon for Sunday. His Bible is open; study aids are nearby. He begins to study.

Then the phone rings.

His assistant tells him about a car accident involving a family in the church. The ambulances are already on the way to the hospital. Doug leaves all of his study material on his desk and jumps into the car.

On the way to the hospital, his assistant calls him again. The entire Godsey family of five was in the car. None are seriously hurry except Gary, the father and husband of the family. His condition is grave.

Pastor Doug walks into the emergency waiting room. The family has just been told that their husband and father did not make it. They see their pastor and run to him sobbing, in total shock. Doug is there for them. He stays with the entire family for three hours until he is certain that enough people are around to care for them.

The Afternoon

He stops by his home to see his wife and grab a quick sandwich. It is now afternoon. He’s not sure if he can return to his sermon preparation, but he knows he must. He must fight the emotional exhaustion of the morning, and finish the message. But as he walks back to the church, his assistant apologetically tells him that two people need to speak with him. They consider it urgent.

Doug meets with the two men. One of them is the worship leader of the church. He is struggling with his ministry and is considering giving up. For two hours, Doug listens, consoles, and attempts to encourage the staff member.

The next visitor then catches Doug off guard. George is one of the key lay leaders in the church. Doug considers him a friend and an incredibly vital person in the overall leadership of the congregation. George struggles to speak: “My wife is having an affair . . . “  There are no more words for 15 minutes. Just tears and sobs.

Doug stays with George for over two hours. They pray together and talk about next steps.

It’s nearly five o’clock in the afternoon. Doug is too drained to attempt to get back to his sermon. Instead he begins to look at his crowded email inbox. He cringes when he sees one of the senders of an email. But he cannot stop himself from opening the message. It’s from one of Doug’s most frequent critics in the church. She has two complaints. The first irritation was something he said in last Sunday’s sermon. The second complaint addressed Doug’s failure to visit her sister-in-law who had minor outpatient surgery yesterday. The sister-in-law is not a member of the church. And Doug knew nothing about the surgery.

And Now Evening

Pastor Doug shuts the laptop cover and moves to his car slowly. He’ll stop by the house to grab a quick bite to eat. He needs to check on the Godsey family. He will stay with them for a while, but he must leave prior to 7:30, when he is to give the invocation for a local high school basketball game.

Several people get his attention at the game, so he doesn’t get home until after nine o’clock. He goes to his small study in his home, shuts the door, and begins to cry.

Gary Godsey, the father and husband who was killed in the car accident, was Doug’s best friend.

This was the first chance Doug had to grieve.

A Call to Pray for Pastors

The story is true. Only the names have been changed.

In a few weeks, I will be initiating a call for church members to pray five minutes a day for their pastors. Will you make a commitment today, even before the initiative? Will you commit just five minutes a day to pray for your pastor? Will you ask others in your church to do so? Will you pray for their strength, protection, wisdom, and families?

Will you pray for just five minutes?

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22 Comments

  • I found this post while searching for “a day in the life of a pastor.” I’m a bivocational pastor, and here is my true story, from earlier today:

    I finally receive a voicemail after several calls from an unknown number that hang up without leaving a message. The voicemail caller is calling on behalf of a former church member who has not been to church in months, and indicates urgency. He says we need to meet right away. I return the call, get his voicemail, leave a message, and we go back and forth in phone tag several times.

    I finally get the former member on the phone and offer to make an appointment, but I ask him about the nature of the meeting. He states that he wants to know if he owes taxes on his Social Security check and if he needs to file a tax return.

    I politely inform him that I am not a tax or Social Security expert and therefore could not help with that information even if we met face to face. I suggest he call H&R Block or the Social Security office.

    The caller seems satisfied with this answer. Another day, another crisis averted.

  • I do pray for my Pastor daily when I wake up for time in God`s Holy presence.Somehow the Lord has given me a heart for my Pastor as well as other pastors.They do go through so much.Sometimes we think they are robots with no feelings or emotions.But they do feel hurt and pain.We say so many insensitive things & expect them to receive it with grace.It is also a very lonely place for they have to be careful who they confide in.They have to keep all they were told inside.God bless all His faithful men and women servants,It is not an easy job.

  • Greetings! I’ve been following your web site for a
    while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you
    a shout out from Dallas Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the great
    job!

  • Pastor Kev says on

    Thanks for this…One month after the death of my wife a four years ago a member of my church wrote and sent out an email to several people basically telling of my lack of leadership and parenting skills as his reason for leaving the church. That deviated me especially since my wife just passed after several years of suffering with ALS. Six months later I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to go to him and ask for forgiveness of whatever it was that I had done to hurt him. As pastors we will suffer from instances such as the above. We have to remember that man is fallen in his nature and will attack. When I was between pastorates three years ago I told the pastor of the church that I attended I would be his best advocate. During the time of being in his church, unfortunately I did have to defend him as another attacked. When a man of God is doing God’s will Satan is going to go into full attack mode. Yes, pastors NEED prayer like never before. Thank you so much for this article.

  • Cailey Dumler says on

    I am only an associate on staff at a church. I have not experienced this extreme of a day but I know it is possible. My pastor is beginning his second Sabbatical in two months and I am so happy for him! This story is clearly just one reason we need to lift up our pastors and their families. My heart went to this pastor’s family…who never did get to enjoy a meal…let alone a conversation with their husband/father. So many pastors quitting ministry…we need to stop this epidemic! Please partner with us to pray for our pastors.

  • M H DENNIS says on

    25 years pastoring the same church in Nevada. 44 total years pastoring.
    I can relate to this site. At what may soon be the end
    of the ministry God has given to me because of
    Parkinson’s disease I realize God has been with me
    all the way and still is at this writing. There have been many trials and test; but, I have found God faithful. PTL

  • Pastor C says on

    Thanks for this article, especially noting something often overlooked – a Pastor’s grief over the loss of a member.

  • Timothy W. Smith says on

    Thank you for this story. I must confess I have lived this or parts of it many times in nearly 30 years of ministry. Thank you for making it public in a loving, yet powerful way.
    In His Love, Tim Smith

  • Pastor M says on

    This sounds like my father’s ministry , and now for me as a Pastor too it reminds me of the hurt from two previous congregations where I couldn’t live up to the expectations. Now I am a bi-vocational Pastor. Please pray for me and others like me because I never feel like I can give enough to either.

  • Justalayperson,
    Thank you for your response. Church members like you make the pastorate so much more enjoyable than it might otherwise be. Dr. Rainer has touched on something he could not have known had he not been in the pastorate himself. All of us who have experienced days such as he has recounted in this blog are grateful to lay persons like you.
    Thank you for praying for your pastor. Please make sure he knows you are praying for him. If you discover that he needs a pastor friend with whom he can share his heart, please let him know Dr. Rainer has provided one for him at LifeWay. Encouage him to email me at [email protected].

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