Lots of stressful parishioner interaction: angry people; crazy people; hurting people. Lots of stressful programs (will they turn out or will they be a bust?). Lots of stressful community things going on. Lots of stressful denominational things that keep breaking in when there's no extra time to deal with them. My friend summed it up, ruefully, "This is my circus. These are my monkeys."
I remember it well. We pastors choose this life; or, rather, God chose us for it. We may complain a bit (okay, a lot), but we can't pull back from it. Nobody's making us put up with the craziness. We were sent by God to these people, these situations, in these days and not some other day and age. It's an impossible job, but we crank ourselves up every day and go out and do it. One more time. This is my circus, and these are my monkeys. I'm glad I don't have to do it any more. But I don't regret doing it, either.
My Health Quotient score on the quiz my insurance demands I take every year was up to 65 this time. It said the average for men in their 60s was 68, so I'm more or less on par with my contemporaries. But then it gave me the last three years of my scores to compare. In 2015, I scored 44, which was bad. But in 2016, the year before I retired, I scored 34, which was terrible. Last year, a few weeks after retirement, I scored 55. And now, 65. And while I have pooh-poohed this score-keeping over the years, it was certainly measuring something. And that something in my case was mostly stress. But then, professional ministry is stressful. And so it has always been.
I continue to do ministry as a volunteer these days. I dabble a bit. I especially make myself available to do things that support my pastor. I have more time now, too, to support other pastor colleagues still serving. And I pray for them. Pastors have an impossible job they don't want to give up. If you want to help, believe in them. Love them. Pray for them. And don't be the monkey flinging poo, if you can help it.