By far the most common question I have been asked in my first year of ministry at LifeWay is, “Do you miss pastoring a local church?” Although I have experienced no regrets about stepping into my ministry to pastors, I do have a few things that I sometimes miss about pastoring a local church:
- Hugs – Four times the Apostle Paul told Christians to “greet one another with a holy kiss,” so I know appropriate touching is healthy in church. I see hugs as the cultural equivalent to a Pauline kiss, although either can be done in a creepy way. Physical touch is my “love language,” so this is my way of saying that I miss the church members I grew to love in all three churches I pastored.
- Laughter – There is lots of laughter at LifeWay, which is one of the many things I love about it. However, I do miss experiencing the joys of life that you experience pastoring a local church. I was usually one of the first to show up and last to leave on Sundays because I enjoyed the life-giving laughter of my church family.
- Tears – Walking through the valleys of death, divorce, debt, depression, etc. with people creates an intimate bond between a pastor and his people that is indescribable and irreplaceable. I can’t say that I miss funerals, but I do miss loving people when they needed me the most.
- Baptisms – This is the ultimate payoff for pastors. There are many other fist-pumping moments to celebrate with church members, but they all pale in comparison to the thrill of helping a new Christian take that first step of obedience.
- Discipleship – Even though my role in discipleship evolved somewhat over almost three decades of pastoring, I have always had an active roll in small groups and mentoring. What I miss most is having a front row seat in the maturing process of people I know and love.
- Vision – The vision of each local church is intrinsically tied to the lead pastor, as it should be. Pastors should enjoy the privilege of casting a vision wide enough to reach across the pews, and personal enough to reach into each heart. Sometimes I miss that sacred privilege.
- Preaching – I still love to feed people the Word in churches, events, and retreats. I do sometimes miss preaching to the same people each week. I also miss preaching through whole books of the Bible as well as seasonal mini-series.
There are a few things I won’t miss, but will just keep that to myself because you already know what/who they are and that list would only benefit the devil. Looking back, what I miss most are the people who entrusted me with the privilege of pastoring them.