Three years ago, I wrote Praying for Pastors, a post that includes a 7-day prayer guide for pastors (I encourage you to print it and use it to pray for your pastor, including those of you who are part of Centre Grove or West Side).
I’ve been thinking about the prayer guide for a few reasons: Joleen and I appreciate those who pray for us, prayer is a focus of my ordination project, and I’ve been reading a lot lately about the struggles pastors face.
In fact, I encourage you to read Taking a Break From the Lord’s Work appeared on the New York Times’ website on August 1, 2010. Here’s the first paragraph …
The findings have surfaced with ominous regularity over the last few years, and with little notice: Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.
The article goes on to describe the current situation and what some churches are doing to encourage care of clergy and clergy self-care.
This past week, Eugene Cho wrote Death by Ministry?, a sobering look at the challenges of ministry with a ton of scary statistics.
Last April, Thom Rainer, author of Simple Church, which we’ve been working our way through with our covenant groups (see 1.0 and 2.0), wrote a pointed piece for church members called, Straight Talk to Church Members about Their Pastors.
Rainer offers a list of things to do and not do for pastors. I want to include them here (words in brackets added for inclusiveness) …
From Rainer’s article …
What Not to Do
- Don’t criticize or make critical suggestions to the pastor unless you have spent much time in prayer over the matter. Pastors have to deal with criticisms every week. It drains them. Also, don’t criticize the pastor’s family.
- Don’t ask the pastor to make announcements right before the worship service. He [She] needs to be focused on his [her] sermon. Similarly, don’t say other things to him [her] that may distract him [her] before he [she] preaches.
- Don’t tell your pastor how he [she] compares to other pastors.
- Don’t expect the pastor to be at all the church events and functions you think he [she] should attend. Most of the other church members want him [her] at “their” events as well.
- Don’t expect the pastor to be the primary pastoral care giver to all members, their relatives, their distant relatives, and the rest of the community within a 30-mile radius.
What to Do
- Do pray for your pastor. Send him [her] an email to let him [her] know you are praying for him [her].
- Do encourage your pastor. He [She] needs it because he’s [she’s] human, and he [she] needs it to balance the criticisms he [she] hears.
- Do work with the leadership of the church to make certain the pastor is getting sufficient rest, time off, and family time. Most pastors are on call 24/7.
- Do encourage the rest of the church to take on pastoral care responsibility, particularly through small groups and Sunday school classes. The pastor should be the primary care giver for the most urgent and serious of needs. The rest of the church should do the bulk of the ministry.
- Do be faithful to the ministry of the church. Few things encourage a pastor as much as committed church members.
These articles offer some good practical advice as well as sobering statistics on the need to pray for pastors.
I often think of Terry Teykl’s book, which encourages people to pray for pastors, Preyed On or Prayed For. We’d much rather be prayed for than preyed on, so we’re asking for your help (again, check out this 7-day prayer guide)!
Thank you for your prayers!