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 akin to first responders.
The Eizengas served as pastors for 35 years in Ontario and co-direct the Kerith Creek Retreat Center in Alberta, Canada. The Doerksens were pastors for 22 years and co-direct the Kerith Retreat Center in Manitoba, Canada.
Research shows that 50 percent of pastors – half! – say that they would quit the ministry if they could. Seventy percent leave the ministry with lower self-esteem than when they started.
Pastors feel tremendous pressure. They come alongside people who are hospitalized and also comfort their concerned family members. They counsel hurting families, visit shut-ins, pray with church members who are grieving, and maintain busy teaching and preaching schedules, often feeling like they’re being “graded” on the quality of their sermons.
In Luke chapter eight, Jesus was walking in the midst of a crowd, and a woman touched him and was healed. In verse 46, Jesus stopped and said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me” (ESV). Even Jesus was affected by the care of others. How much more so are today’s struggling pastors?
October is “Clergy Appreciation Month,” a time when we can recognize and celebrate our pastors and their families. This is your chance to let your pastor know how much you care about him or her – maybe with a card or a simple gift. Some churches like to organize a banquet or other celebration to recognize their pastor. If you’d like some creative ideas about what you can do, we have a free planning guide for you at our website.
I also recommend that you not limit your positive feedback to the month of October. Pastors and their families need to know we care about them all through the year, but this program and our resources are great reminders that we need to start somewhere.
You can hear my conversation with the Eizengas and the Doerksens on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Hope and Renewal for Our Pastors.” Listen on your local radio station, online, on iTunes, via Podcast, or on our free phone app.
They’ll share about the unique challenges and stresses that pastors face, and offer solid advice on how you can encourage those who serve your church.