What do you think a typical week is like for your pastor? A few hours of study and a sermon on Sunday? The occasional hospital- or home-visit?
I recently talked with two couples – Marshall and Merrie Eizenga and Sam and Pauline Doerksen – who say many pastors routinely experience stress at the level of first responders.
They would know. The Eizengas served as pastors for 35 years. The Doerksens were pastors for 22 years. Together, they now co-direct the Kerith Creek Retreat Center in Canada. They point to research that shows that 50% of pastors – half! – say that they would quit the ministry today if they could. Seventy percent leave the ministry with a lower view of themselves than when they entered.
Pastors feel tremendous pressure. When a congregant is hospitalized, pastors bring comfort to the family while managing their own emotions. They counsel hurting couples, visit shut-ins, and pray with church members who are grieving, all the while maintaining a busy teaching and preaching schedule, the quality of which they feel like they’re being “graded.”
The stress of caring for others even affected Jesus. After a full day of ministry, Jesus was so tired that he slept in a boat that was being battered by a storm so severe that the disciples, many of them experienced fisherman, were fearful (Mark 4:38-40).
Is your pastor one of the 50% who would quit the ministry if they could? If so, you can help.
October is “Pastor Appreciation Month,” an opportunity to recognize and celebrate our pastors and their families and a chance to let your pastor know how much you care about him or her. Send a card. Buy a simple gift. Some churches even organize a banquet or throw a party to celebrate their pastor. If you need help with some creative ideas, we have a free planning guide.
I also recommend that you not limit your positive feedback to the month of October. Pastors and their families need to know that we care about them all through the year. We have a lot of great ideas for how to do that on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Hope and Renewal for Our Pastors” with the Eizengas and the Doerksens. Listen to our full conversation on your local radio station, online, on iTunes, via Podcast, or on our free phone app.
If you would like to support our efforts to encourage pastors, I invite you to partner with Focus on the Family. For a gift of any amount, we’ll send you H.B. London, Jr., and Neil Wiseman’s book The Heart of a Great Pastor: How to Grow Strong and Thrive Wherever God Has Placed You is available. Visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459). If you can’t afford it, we’ll find a way to get it to you.