Best Job In The World – Being A Pastor

Parish ministry is still the best job in the world.

But who believes this anymore?  And why should they?

Attitudes about the church have changed so much that it was inevitable that young people look askance at the idea of a career as clergy-person.  Over the years, we have talked with so many clergy who lament that their adult children no longer go to church.  It should surprise no one that children from clergy families are not beating down the door to seminaries.  That may not be the case for those that grew up in a politically-connected church family (that is, those with a family history that is steeped in the church politics of their particular denomination).  But, too often, our young “best and brightest” do not see the parish ministry as the greatest profession in the world–even when they had the benefit of growing up in a clergy family.

So many disillusioned PK’s (preacher’s kids) consider their parent who served a small to medium-sized church and they are not favorably impressed by what they experienced growing up: no family time, no money, burn-out.

If only we could look at parish ministry with new eyes–with creativity and and the willingness to abandon old ways from the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s–we’d be able to persuade young people struggling with vocational goals and decisions that the parish ministry is an exceptional career opportunity.  What a difference this could make for the future of the church.  When we talk with second-career seminary students, we often hear that many of them wanted to go to seminary in their younger years.  If only we could inspire our youth with the vision of  parish ministry as the incredible job it can be.

Our youth need to experience–to see  and to hear–pastors demonstrating a professional and personal/family life filled with vitality, creative stewardship and travel.  They do not need to experience–to see and to hear–only that clergy are destined for poverty, burn-out, and family disintegration.

It makes me angry to attend church gatherings where someone in the church hierarchy goes on and on about their travels, “I just went to Italy (or Africa or Switzerland or China)… I wish you could have come with me (or us)…”  Duh!  Me too.

The thing is: It could have been me or some other pastor serving another local church nearby.

By doing home exchanges, ministry exchanges, or a clergy sabbatical every four years, clergy burn-out would become a thing of the past.  Congregational dependence on the clergy would become a thing of the past.  Young men and women would see that parish ministry is the best job in the world–and they should not put off one minute longer pondering the possibility that God is calling them to become a parish pastor.