Some pastors doubt. For a surprisingly raw and candid exploration of this reality, see the film First Reformed.
Pastors sometimes doubt their own salvation, or the goodness of God, or perhaps even God’s very existence. These doubts may be mild and fleeting or existentially gripping and persistent. And the longer they linger and the deeper they go, the more the pastor might wonder, am I being a person with integrity if I continue to minister when I have these doubts?
In one sense, that’s a question that must be left to every individual to answer. Each one of us must decide for ourselves when we are no longer acting with integrity. That said, I do want to address here the general notion that doubts of this kind are somehow incompatible with an individual’s ministry, and thus that doubts might call the integrity of the minister into question.
My answer is simple: that is a lie. It is a lie akin to the person who thinks that their failure to feel love for their spouse provides grounds for questioning the integrity of their marriage. On the contrary, the integrity of one’s marriage is in peril not when you don’t feel love but rather when you think that lack of feeling is grounds for the abandonment of the marriage. In fact, those who remain true to their vows in the moments when they don’t feel love show themselves to be the truest spouses of all.
By the same token, those who minister to others even in the moments when God seems most hidden to them show themselves to be the truest ministers of all.