This year in April, I celebrated my 23 years of full-time pastoral ministry. When I started the Church here in Amsterdam, less did I know what was really waiting for me. I am a Pentecostal pastor, ministering to immigrant communities. As a pastor, I like to share with you what is in my heart and what are the things a pastor feels, experiences in his/her ministerial life. Prior to this, I like to make it clear that what I share here is not about the TV Pentecostal pastors, with jets and bodyguards and Armani suits living in multi-million mansions. These pastors are actually minorities and do not represent large number of Pentecostal pastors. Further, I emphasize that even though I am a Pentecostal pastor, and I am a member of various Pentecostal groups, I do not see Pentecostalism as a denomination per-se, but as a movement which started in two thousand years ago, as accounted in the book of acts. Lastly, what I am sharing here are based on my
personal account and hope to encourage other fellow pastors or those in the ministry.
To be a pastor to a Pentecostal congregation, is not an easy an easy task, for couple of reasons I outline below:
1.People require the pastor to be ‘optimal’. Unfortunately, Pentecostal pastors are being unconsciously pressured by their congregations to be always strong, they should never get sick and when they are, they will hide their sickness from their congregation. What makes it worse, when a pastor is weak or not at his best, people might link it to things like ‘hidden sin’, ‘he/she is not praying enough’, ‘he is not strong enough’ or ‘he is not spiritual enough’. So a Pentecostal pastor must always perform out of their maximum energy, and pretend that they are strong. That is why most pentecostal pastors are lonely, they don't have a friend or person with whom they can share their weakness or struggles. Because to some people weakness and struggle is a sign of not being spiritual.
2.Often, if not most, Pentecostal pastors must preach long sermons and if possible entertain the congregation. Further, it is demanded that the pastor must come with new spiritual and biblical revelations. Sometimes it seems that some people are revelation-addicts. It is also demanded that Pentecostal pastor have to be spiritual 24/7, the pastor's spiritual radar must be at the most. By spiritual I mean, a pastor must prophesy (even when he has no prophesy), he must explain visions he saw in the spirit and what the holy spirit is telling him etc.
3.Often, if not most, Pentecostal pastors, do not have long holidays or regular sabbatical periods, and often they don't retire. They are like an engine that has to work nonstop. That is why some pastors burn out. There is pressure upon the pastors because people are attracted by their charisma, and when the pastor is not there visible behind the pulpit, it will take less than two weeks the congregation grows cold. Even when another pastor preaches or teaches on his behalf, still people see the main pastor as a father type, and when he is not there, people start being discouraged. Unfortunately, people cannot understand that pastors are not robots and they need time to recover, spend time with God and their families in prayer. Pastors have also the right to enjoy long holidays etc.
4.Often pastors have to be available 24/7. Especially migrant Pentecostal pastors. Many people think that the main job of the pastor is on Sunday. This is so narrow-minded and insensitive, and when people speak such words, they have no idea how much they hurt their pastors. Being a Pentecostal pastor, we have to be there for people throughout the week, helping the congregation. Especially migrant Pentecostal pastors are not only pastors they also social workers, when an undocumented church member is arrested by immigration police, we have to be there. When a newly arrived migrant needs a room, we have to find for them. When a migrant has a health problem without proper insurance even in the middle of night at 3 AM we visit hospitals. Congregation members forget that to be a pastor is a life commitment.
5.Often if not most, Pentecostal pastors are financially suffering, often they even invest from their own savings to help the ministry, which is to my opinion not a healthy thing.
There are many other things I can share here but for now these were my experiences before, until I started honestly speaking to my church family and gradually they began to understand that being a pastor doesn't mean you have to be 24/7 optimally spiritual being.