Sometimes a pastor doesn’t feel like smiling

The other day at work, we had an exciting conversation about frustrating things that happen in the church and with pastors. On the way home that day, Spotify decided to play “Human” by Christina Perri.

I’ve heard this song a lot, mostly in the background of a climactic scene in a TV show or performances on the Voice. But I really only know the chorus: “I’m only human, and I bleed when I fall down…”

I’m not sure if it was because the conversation with my coworkers had started this train of thought or what was going on, but I started relating all the lyrics to church, particularly those who serve in leadership ministry.

I have been in that world since I was born

If I wasn’t leading, I was busy being born to missionaries in a third-world country, or riding door-to-door in my stroller as my parents worked to start a new church, or perfecting every memory verse, or handling the arguments of my peers when they needed to take it to the pastor’s daughter to decide, or trying to be a “normal” kid in the crowd at church camp, or teaching all the choreography to the little ones for the Christmas musical, or organizing the youth worship team.

You get the picture. Being in a pastor’s family then marrying a pastor then becoming a pastor myself has had me all over this world inside and out for life.

When we tried to join a small group with people in our same stage of life, we were singled out. “Pastor Kyle should read the scripture – he’s the pastor.” Any struggles we had in our “work life” or even personal life, had to be carefully filtered, if shared at all, to make sure no one got the wrong idea.

Real community and friendship can be hard to come by

I can fake a smile
I can force a laugh
I can dance and play the part
If that’s what you ask
Give you all I am

I can do it
I can do it
I can do it

We are always expected to be the ones to seek everyone else out for friendship or hospitality even though we’re the new ones at church or we’d be singled out in conversation if we tried.

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We are expected to have it all together even in our 20’s or have the model marriage even as newlyweds. Walking the line between healthy, relatable vulnerability and losing the trust of those who look to us as spiritual leaders is a never-ending mental battle.

I can hold my breath
I can bite my tongue
I can stay awake for days
If that’s what you want
Be your number one

Do anything else instead

My great-grandad was a pastor. When he found out my dad wanted to be a pastor, he told him “If there’s anything else in the world besides ministry you could do and be happy, do that instead.”

It wasn’t that my great-grandad hated being in ministry. It’s that the pressures and expectations involved are so hard. They are unique from other leadership roles in that the expectations include spiritual, mental, personal, familial, personality, intellectual, relational, and every other type of expectation or standard you can put on someone.

But I’m only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I’m only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
‘Cause I’m only human

What ministry isn’t about

Church people most often do not mean to put on these expectations. They probably don’t even know they do. And sometimes I simply look at my own feelings and ask if I’m not the one putting the pressure on myself.

But my great-grandad was trying to tell my dad, who then encouraged me and my brother the same way, that ministry is a spiritual burden that one must be called to to be able to handle. It is not something to be taken lightly.

I can turn it on
Be a good machine
I can hold the weight of worlds
If that’s what you need
Be your everything

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Ministry is not the back-up plan if your other job didn’t work out.

It’s not the major you sign up for when you find out Biology was too much work.

It’s not what you do because you’re fired up about Jesus and it seems vocational ministry is the best way to channel that passion.

I can do it
I can do it
I’ll get through it

Instead, do nothing else

But nothing is more fulfilling to my dad than preaching and teaching the Word of God. Nothing gets him more excited than finding new revelations through study and sharing them with others.

And nothing thrills me more than showing people hope and life that Jesus offers.

Nothing lights Kyle up more than when a person who is far from God opens up their heart to Him.

Nothing fulfills me more than sharing Truth with those who are hungry.

And nothing breaks my husband’s heart more than roadblocks which have been set in the way of a clear path to God’s love and grace.

Serving people who need Jesus’ restorative life, hope, grace, love and truth is what keep our hearts full and overflowing and beating. 

Passion doesn’t make it easy

I’m only human
I’m only human
Just a little human

I can take so much
‘Til I’ve had enough

Picking up and leaving Fort Wayne 5 months ago was a huge leap of faith for us. We are planners. We don’t like faith all that much. It goes against our grain.

These past 5 months have probably been the hardest of our married lives so far. We know there are challenges still to come and enormous celebration to come – we are excited and scared of it all.

But sometimes, there are days when all we want is for everyone else to understand that, just for this day, these words are so true.

There are some days, when your pastor, your spiritual mentor, or your small group leader have these same deep emotions.

Most of the time, they don’t know how to say them in a way that will be heard well. So the heavy words stay inside, or are poured out to our partner who already feels their weight as well.

But I’m only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I’m only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
‘Cause I’m only human

Yes, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us, but so do you; and so did Jesus.

Jesus still wept and prayerfully wrestled with the Father. He felt the burden of love so heavily he mourned over his city. He wasn’t the type of savior or king everyone expected him to be.

Jesus felt what it was like to be human and still have the heart of God.

So, not specifically by me but through me, to give a voice the spiritual authority in your life: sometimes these words just need to be heard and felt and understood. 


‘Cause I’m only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I’m only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
‘Cause I’m only human

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4 thoughts on “Sometimes a pastor doesn’t feel like smiling

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