Ten Things Pastors Don’t Like about Pastoring

The expectations of a pastor are endless. Many members expect them to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. But different pastors are wired differently. One pastor may get great fulfillment out of counseling, while another dreads every minute of it.

So I did an informal and unscientific survey of pastors. I asked them a simple question: “What do you like least about being a pastor?” The question was opened-ended and they could give more than one response.

I learned two things from this survey. First, pastors can have strong opinions about what they don’t like. Second, pastors are really different. The responses were wide-ranged and often in opposition to each other.

So here are the top ten things pastors don’t like about pastoring. I’ve listed them in reverse order. I then follow each dislike with a comment from a representative pastor.

10. Dealing with budgets and finance. “I have a pastor friend who has a finance major. He was in business before he went to seminary and he loves working with numbers. Not me. I get nauseas at the thought of working on the church budget.”

9. Weddings. “Emotions are usually high at weddings. Some people are difficult to handle. Plus the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception take away my whole weekend. I wish we could pass a law that no weddings can take place during college football season.”

8. Announcements in the worship service. “This past Sunday I was asked to announce that one of the older Sunday school classes was having a garage sale to raise money to repair the pipe organ. Their hearts were right, but I had to talk about a garage sale and a pipe organ right before I preached.”

7. Persistent critics. “You have to deal with critics if you are a pastor. I just struggle with those who are always on me about something. They never let up. It can be demoralizing.”

6. Anonymous critics. “I shouldn’t even let anonymous critics bother me. If they don’t have the courage to use their name, I have no reason to dwell on it. But, I’ve got to admit, it really bugs me. I find myself wondering throughout the day who it might be.”

5. Counseling. “I really envy those pastors who are counselors. They get energized by listening to people at their points of need and hurt. I have to admit that my mind wanders and I watch the clock. I don’t think I really help anybody when I counsel.”

4. Treating spouses like they are paid staff members. “I really hurt for my wife because we have one church member that expects her to put in the same amount of hours at church as I do. My wife is taking care of our three preschool children at home, but she feels guilty every time the church member talks to her.”

3. Supporters who don’t support pastors publicly. “One guy was ripping into me at our last business meeting.  But he didn’t bother me as much as my so-called supporters who remained silent the whole time. They’ve told me that they are behind me, but they weren’t there for me when I needed them the most.”

2. Funerals of non-Christians. “I’ve been a pastor for nearly thirty years, and I still struggle when I’m asked to do the funeral of someone who never professed Christ. Most of the time my funeral message is directed at the family, and how God will comfort them. It’s still not easy.”

1. Business meetings. “Let me know if you come across a pastor that actually likes church business meetings. I want to find the secret to his moments of delusion.”

What do you think of this list? What would you add?


Pastor to Pastor is the Saturday blog series at ThomRainer.com. Pastors and staff, if we can help in any way, contact Steve Drake, our director of pastoral relations, at [email protected]. We also welcome contacts from laypersons in churches asking questions about pastors, churches, or the pastor search process. 

Posted on October 6, 2012

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
More from Thom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Robert McGillary says on

    Kevin –
    I’m totally in agreement with you on looking at weddings from God’s perspectives. It’s really not the wedding in itself that troubles me. It’s all the man-made additions to the ceremony that often created frustration and angst.

  • Like most, I used to detest weddings. It always seemed like someone was always trying to cause problems, or someone was trying change what the bride and groom wanted. Honestly the way I used to feel, my wedding complaint list could go on and on. Then one day I began to study about how God looks at the marriage bond in the Bible. That changed my whole perspective on weddings. I now look at them from a totally different perspective. The Holy Spirit completely turned by thinking around, but it took Him to do that for me. Blessings to all of my brothers in the trenches.

  • Thom Rainer says on

    Thanks Brian. Guys like you are my heroes.

  • Thom Rainer says on

    Randy –
    You are a mind reader! That is my post for next Saturday.

  • Thom Rainer says on

    George –
    You are kind, but I have to admit that these thoughts are not my own. I simply listen to pastors and share what they say. You guys are on the front line of spiritual warfare, and I am merely a reporter writing about the action from afar.

  • Thom Rainer says on

    Pastor W. –
    As I noted in the previous comment, you are definitely not alone!

  • Brian Prucey says on

    Like many other pastors, I could have written this myself. I am an accountant by training. I like working with numbers, but budget battles get tiring when the church wants to focus more on money than missions. That being said, every job has its more unpleasant qualities. After 25 years as a pastor, I have some stories to tell about all ten. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thom Rainer says on

    Jeff –
    You are definitely not alone. Many pastors just feel embarrassed to admit what they dislike about pastoring.

  • Randy K. says on

    Great post, I can relate to them all. Any consideration to a follow up survey on the things pastors like most about pastoring?

  • George H. says on

    I was almost ready to declare it earlier, but after this article it’s a done deal in my mind: No one understands pastors better than Thom Rainer. It’s little wonder that your blog has fast become my favorite.

  • Pastor W says on

    This article nailed it! I’ve had sentiments like all ten of them, but I struggled that I was being a lousy pastor by feeling this way. Now I know I’m not alone.

  • Wow! I struggle with ALL ten of these things! I’m glad I’m not alone!

1 2 3