Taking Care of Your Pastor

Taking Care of Your Pastor

 By Barb Green, Parish Nurse

Milton, WI

 

Think a minute about how you view your pastor(s). In your mind do they rank pretty close to God? Are they a handy target of criticism for everything about the church? Or are they a friend — a mere mortal who has struggles, temptations and discouragements just like the rest of us and are in need of our prayers and support?

 

At Conference this summer, Jane Rubietta, a pastor’s wife, presented some of the following ideas in her workshop on caring for your pastor. She gave some very discouraging statistics: 60% of male pastors and 67% of female pastors suffer from depression; 47% leave the pastorate because of conflicts in the church; 1/3 leave the ministry permanently; 83% spend two or less evenings per week at home. Although the average stay for a pastor is 2.5 to five years, we are told that good ministry starts after 7 years. Pastor turnover causes many problems, including the church’s impact in the community, and correlates with the health of the congregation and the pastor. An increase in arthritis, diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression and decreased longevity are some results.

 

It appears that for the physical, mental and spiritual health of both pastors and congregations and for the ongoing fulfillment of our mission we need to sit up and take notice of these facts. The Bible repeatedly reminds us that we should honor our leaders (Hebrews 13:1, 2, 17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Ezekiel 44:30). As Christ’s followers we are called to pray for our pastors and to be present in their lives.

 

One way to bless the pastor and his family is to pray scriptures for them (John 17; Ephesians 1:16-23; Ephesians 3:16-21; Ephesians 6:19-20; Philemon 1:9-11 and more). Let the pastor know what you are specifically praying for him; pray with him; have members sign up for a day per month to pray for the pastor so they are covered in prayer. Pray that they will be protected from the evil one. Write into the job description that the

pastor takes care of his own soul: when is his Sabbath? Find out how he best connects with God and help him get to these experiences. Internet pornography may be a problem for pastors. Covenant Eyes is a program that keeps pastors accountable. Talk to the SDB Council on Ministry about paying the subscription fee for your pastor. Be realistic about pay, time off, hours worked and expectations.

 

Another way to bless your pastor is to employ your gifts in your church. Don’t hide what God has blessed you with; use it for the work of the church. Use your talents: singing, playing an instrument, drama, artistic creativity, giving a children’s message, and other talents can all be used to God’s glory. When you volunteer it relieves your pastor of finding someone to do the job, but remember to allow your pastor to employ his gifts, too. If you have a skill or profession, offer to use it without pay. Consider supporting the church by tithing.

 

Let the pastor know you appreciate him. Send a note giving direct feedback about specific ways a message has helped you, offer to care for the children, send him food. Appreciation is the number one way of improving your pastor’s morale. The second way is to keep yourself whole physically, morally, mentally and spiritually.

Do not criticize the pastor’s family. None of them are saints; don’t expect them to be.

 

Over 400 pastors leave the ministry weekly in the U.S. Don’t let this happen to your pastor. “And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, The Message.

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