My Idea That Went Nowhere
I pondered starting a podcast during the pandemic. I decided on the name Ordinary Pastor. My plan was to interview . . . wait for it . . . ordinary pastors. I wanted to create a venue where ordinary pastors, serving in smaller or out-of-the-way churches could share their stories—their call to ministry and life lessons, along with the challenges and blessings of serving in obscurity. I envisioned a community of pastors bonding together around a shared identity: We are the pastors history books will ignore.
Alas, I never went forward with the idea.
Exactly Why Are You Telling Us This?
Why am I writing about this, you might wonder? I am infrequently asked why I haven’t started a podcast. Yes, you read that correctly: I am asked infrequently—only a handful of people have posed the question to me. Still, I decided to give it some thought.
Here’s what I came up with:
First, I don’t think I could sustain it. Starting and maintaining a good podcast is a huge time commitment. I have a wife and three kids I need to do a better job of loving and serving. I have sermons to prepare and preach. I have books to read and papers to write for my DMin degree. Hosting a podcast would end up being one more thing to do.
Second, I don’t possess the necessary skills. I’m not tech savvy. I have no marketing capabilities (and marketing myself feels gross anyway). I also don’t know the first thing about business. And—and this is probably the clincher—I don’t have the time, margin, or mental and physical energy to learn how to do any of the aforementioned. I’m tired.
Finally—and this may be the actual clincher—I am suspicious of my motives. What do I mean? Well, one of the goals of starting a podcast would be for people to listen to it. (Brilliant observation, I know.) And a growing audience brings with it at least a certain level of notoriety. And I’m suspicious of being in the spotlight even a little bit.
I’m also suspicious of establishing an identity for myself apart from the local church. I’m not a free-floating minister to the masses. I serve a specific congregation. While it’s appropriate for pastors to preach and write for a broader audience than just their local congregation, I don’t think that’s something I should actively seek. And while starting a podcast doesn’t guarantee this, it creates the potential for it to happen.
The Vortex of Toxicity That Is Social Media
Beyond all this, starting and maintaining a thriving podcast requires a social media presence. And I don’t want to be on social media. It’s a toxic environment: Too much self-promotion, cynicism, grandstanding, and virtue-signaling. Just thinking about it makes me want a shower.
A Pace of Life Conducive to Prolonged Contemplation
One final thought: Pastors traffic heavily in words. We prepare sermons, we write for church publications, we offer counsel, etc. Doing this well requires depth and clarity of thought. Depth and clarity of thought depend upon a certain pace of life—unhurried stillness, quiet reflection, and inner calm. I suspect those three blessings would flee from me if I started a podcast.
The Quotable Lewis
And I can’t seem to get C. S. Lewis’s counsel to a friend out of my mind:
“Don’t be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn’t do. . . . There can be intemperance in work just as in drink. What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattering of one’s own self-importance.”
Make of those words what you will.
Dear Pastor Joe,
Thank you for your excellent insights. You are a treasure!