What Pastors Don’t Like About Their Jobs

You might be surprised at these real-life responses.

Wow. It was just a simple question, I thought: “Pastors, what two things do you like LEAST about your job?” The responses were quick and numerous, however. Responses ranged from “church discipline” to “mean people” to “social club mentality” to “completing paperwork.”

Here are the top 12 responses to this Facebook and Twitter survey:

  1. Criticism and conflict. These pastors struggle when church members continually complain or foster conflict in the body.
  2. Unrealistic expectations. Some pastors said they placed the expectations on themselves, but most felt they could not live up to expectations imposed by others.
  3. Committees and administration. I don’t know many pastors who like these components, and the survey confirmed my experience.
  4. Little family time. Evening appointments, holiday preaching schedules and other commitments get in the way of family time.
  5. Unreliable volunteers. Even when they make verbal commitments, church volunteers sometimes don’t come through.
  6. Loneliness. I wish this one weren’t on the list, but it’s there. Pastors still feel isolated and friendless.
  7. Business meetings. This was not a surprise (though I thought it might be higher on the list). For some pastors, a business meeting always carries the potential for conflict.
  8. Power families. Families that seemingly control and “own” the church frustrate pastors who want to lead.
  9. Member apathy. Comfortable church folks who don’t want to change—whether it’s buying into a new vision, desiring discipleship, deepening their faith or adopting a new worship style—lead to pastoral anguish.
  10. Broken homes. Pastors grieve when members make sinful decisions that cost them their home.
  11. Hypocrisy. No church leaders are pleased to see members say one thing, but live another way.
  12. Budgets. Preparing budgets is time-consuming work, and worrying about living up to them can be mind and heart consuming.

Laypersons, any surprises here? Pastors, what would you add?

Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless is professor and senior associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor for almost twenty years, and is the author of Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors: Healthy Churches Winning Spiritual Warfare, Making Disciples through Mentoring, Serving in Your Church's Prayer Ministry, and Eating the Elephant. Dr. Lawless speaks extensively around the countryYou can read articles from Dr. Chuck Lawless on his personal blog (ChuckLawless.com) ( or connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook. .