This post comes from a weekly post I share on Facebook each Sunday. God has given me marching orders to pray for certain pastors/ministers and to challenge others to pray for those they know as well.
🎶 Oh what a beautiful morning! 🎶
Actually, as I write this, it’s dark as pitch outside my window. I can barely see the splash of light on the ground! Yet I can and will say, it IS a beautiful morning. I believe every morning is beautiful.
I groan and gripe sometimes, because morning can come really early at times, but when my brain kicks in, I can say with confidence, OH! What a beautiful morning!
This Sunday morning is extra beautiful because we get to go hang out with some spiritual siblings to worship our Heavenly Father. Do you know, I don’t know everyone who will be in the building today? Those believers and I are still connected, though, and I love them. We’re family.
Hey, did you know that October has been deemed “Pastor Appreciation Month”? Truth! While we should be appreciating the person God put in charge of our part of His flock all the time, we can use this month to catch up if we’ve fallen behind.
(This is about to get long…)
Statistics reveal that 70% of pastors are constantly fighting depression and 71% are battling burnout. They need encouragement. Real encouragement. Not just “good sermon, Pastor,” though that is a start.
See, our pastors deal with stuff that we don’t. They go to the office and work there between 50-70 hours a week, preparing for sermons, helping to manage the business of the church—making decisions for the upkeep of the church, managing how the ministries of the church operate within the budget and more—then they go home to spend time with their families. Except, they don’t have a decompression zone, a place where they can go and not be expected to handle one more piece of “business” for the people of the congregation.
Most pastors don’t have any truly off time. They are on duty all the time—even on their children’s birthdays, during anniversary dates, on vacations, while at parents’ bedsides, when trying to sleep. They are expected to be available whenever any person in their congregation needs them. And that’s exactly what they want… in theory. What happens in reality is that that kind of pressure to always be “on” is crushing them. It is a weight they cannot bear. They are placed on pedestals from which the only way off is a fall. In fact, 80% of pastors’ children have left church altogether because of what they’ve seen done to their parents.
Here’s a thought, make the effort to speak to your pastor today. Look that one in the eyes and say thank you. Let them know you’re there for them. Did you know that 70% of pastors say they do NOT have a close friend in whom they can confide? They have little relief for their stress. While exercise would help, over 50% of them don’t; when would they?
Yes, I know. Some of you are working 70-80 hours a week, too. That’s hard! Our pastors live in glass houses, though. For most of us, when the workday is over, we’re free from it. Pastors are under scrutiny 24/7.
The thing is, our pastors love us, the sheep of their part of the flock of God. They want to serve God by serving us. We’re such an unruly crew, though! We, the congregants, have made the profession of “pastor” land near the bottom of a survey of most-respected professions, just above car salesman.
We can make changes in us to help them. We can make sure we respect their time. Don’t call or email them to complain about every little thing. Matter of fact, don’t communicate just to complain. Take those to God. He can change hearts and make everything right. Your pastor can’t.
Respect their space. You don’t like telemarketing calls during supper, do you? And those are calls you can hang up on and get back to your hot meal. A call from a congregant isn’t one easily dropped. It usually involves heart, mind, and soul. The meal (and the family around it) grows colder as the pastor strives for help for that person.
Talk with your pastor as a friend not the person in charge of making you comfy at church. Be a friend. Whatever the pastor tells you, maintain confidence. The only time to pass on information is if you see signs that your pastor is considering something dangerous to self or others. Anything other than that, keep the confidence. Be someone your pastor can trust with anything.
Lead the other congregants to do these things, too. Help them understand that the shepherd of the flock isn’t the person up front on Sundays, He is Jesus and He is the one to whom you take problems. Help them allow the pastor to draw the blinds on those glass walls of the parsonage and have a life outside church like they do. Lead in pouring out encouragement more often than advice.
And of course, the encouragement and help applies to the pastor’s family as well.
I do not want you to be one of those sad statistics that reveal abuse we would not wish for anyone. I want you to experience great joy and fulfillment in your life and ministry. My prayer is that you sense God’s presence today and every day. My hope is that you can pull the blinds on that glass house and settle in with your family to enjoy one another without interruption—not only today, but every day.
The enemy is out to destroy you, my friend, and sadly, he uses the people you’re serving to do that. I’m asking God to silence those who complain, whine, and gossip. May their words be utter confusion, even to themselves. I’m also asking Him to place in all your people a love for Him and for you and your family that overwhelms and excites.
And finally, find someone in whom you can confide, OTHER THAN your spouse. That dear one doesn’t need the load dropped on them, either. If you don’t have a friend who fits that bill, find a counselor, therapist, or psychologist. It’s not wrong. It’s not shameful. God has gifted people to hold these positions and we should use them to the fullest extent!
Now, Pastor, I’m asking God today to lift away every burden from you that you’re not supposed to carry. May every thought that isn’t of Him be demolished. May every fear be erased. May you feel His filling to overflow. May His love freely flow through you to others.
May God bless you and protect you, Pastor. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. Amen.
P.S. Other statistics can be found at https://www.pastoralcareinc.com/statistics/