Brandon Cox: The Internal Battles of Even the Best Pastors

Truth: Your pastor is weak. He’s flesh. He’s human, frail, and doesn’t always have it all together. He may be faithful to God and thereby filled with the Holy Spirit, but there’s always a secret side to him. He will probably never mention it in a sermon or a deacons meeting. Chances are, he won’t even tell his wife, but he endures battles.

I’ve been a pastor since I was 19 years old, and I’ve fought these battles for all of that time. I want to advocate for your pastor today to tell you a few things you probably weren’t aware of.

Your Pastor Battles Loneliness

Pastors are surrounded with people who love them, but who often don’t know them intimately. They are celebrated on Sunday, but wonder on a slow Friday morning if they’ll ever enjoy a deep friendship with anyone. Call him and encourage him.

Your Pastor Battles Feelings of Inadequacy

Most pastors today are expected to be great preachers, teachers, counselors, hospital chaplains, advisors, financial managers, publicists, apologists, scholars, organizers, recruiters, and sometimes maintenance men. That’s a lot of pressure. Most pastors are hardwired to do one or two of those things well, so it’s a virtual guarantee he feels like he’ll never meet your expectations in all of those other areas. Call him and encourage him.

Your Pastor Battles Uncontrollable Outcomes

Years ago, I started designing websites. It’s therapeutic. I can type a few lines of code and perfectly predict how the result will work. People are different. Pastors counsel, advise, plead and beg, but some teenagers still rebel. Some marriages still end in divorce. Some addicts return to their old habits. Call him and let him know he’s making a difference in somebody’s life. Otherwise, he may never know.

Your Pastor Battles Temptation

All believers do, but pastors are on the frontlines and Satan hates them. Pray for him . . . daily. Never miss a day. And maybe, today, call him and pray for him over the phone. In 13 years of pastoral ministry, I prayed with hundreds of church members over the phone. Every now and then, one would surprise me and pray for me. Talk about making a pastor’s day!

Your Pastor Battles Fatigue

At times, it’s short term. Other times, it’s long term, but your pastor gets tired in the same way you do, especially during seasons when the church is growing and doing well. Send him to a retreat. Let him know it’s okay to take a day off.

Your Pastor Battles Doubts About the Future

He has most likely read a hundred books on church growth written by guys who made it look so easy. Start with five people, add water and multiply to thousands and get speaking engagements all over the country. Your pastor asks now and then, “will I ever get there?” Call him and share with him one success story you’ve noticed within your church family. Remind him that it isn’t about the masses of unknown people, it’s about that one.

The fact that your pastor struggles with these issues doesn’t make him less qualified as a shepherd, it makes him more so. The writer of Hebrews said of Jesus, “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested” (Hebrews 2:18 NLT). That’s true of your pastor as well.

Call your pastor.
Send him a note.
Send an email.
Pray for him.

Pastors are heroes. Show yours a little love today.

Brandon Cox is a coach for He also serves as the church planter and Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church in Bentonville, Arkansas, and online editor of He lives with his wife, Angie and together, they have three children.