Pray for Pastors
I’ve been debating this post for quite a while but after 20 years in church ministry and 10 years as a Senior Pastor and church planter I’m hoping this can help others understand pastors a bit more. This month I have seen two pastor friends leave the ministry mostly due to burn out and lack of accountability. I think showing appreciation for our spiritual leaders just as we do with other people in the workplace, community, and at home should be a part of our habits.
You see, pastors have a desire to see each person thrive in their faith. They long for spiritual breakthroughs. Your pastor desires the very best for you. But, according to recent studies thousands of pastors quit each year. Why? They don’t quit because they have a lack of faith in God. They don’t quit because they don’t believe in the calling God has placed on their life. Most don’t even quit because of financial reasons or due to moral failures. Most of these pastors quit because they are overwhelmed with mental exhaustion or burnout. It’s hard to see another pastor friend step down from ministry.
And until you’re a pastor you’ll never fully understand what it’s like to carry spiritual burdens for people. Getting up in the middle of night with someone on your mind to pray for or a hospital visit to make. Overwhelmed with concern by a person not attending or visitor not returning (are they sick/well, mad/frustrated, struggling/hurt, etc.) Your mind continually occupied with the presentation of the upcoming Sunday message – how to preach it, what God wants you to say, and how do we apply it? Being told (mostly by outsiders) to do more as larger churches do or that the church needs to give more to people in need.
Pastors invest their whole life into people and yet a small amount of people will turn their backs on their pastor at the first sign of a storm (and usually without a conversation). Pastors stand in the middle of disputes and bring peace and reason. Pastors stand in the middle of gossip and bring truth and wisdom. Pastors council broken marriages and relationships. Pastors comfort those who have suffered loss.
All of this, while trying to battle their own flesh and grow in their own relationship with God. Pastors see the social media posts. Pastors hear the whispers. Pastors endure the negativity. Pastors are continually caring for the sheep while fending off the wolves (and constantly in spiritual warfare). Some Pastors also work outside the church ministry to support their family financially. Pastors help raise their family and disciple their kids and nurture their wife. Pastors pour out and pour out – rarely being poured into.
So, what keeps a pastor going? The love of Jesus. The Holy Spirit who empowers. The encouraging daily Word of God. His supportive family. And the appreciation from the church fellowship. The people who are genuinely hungry for God. The people who can’t get enough of the Bible and ask good questions. The people who sing to Jesus with passion (even though they are off-key like the pastor). The people who follow Christ and live out their faith at home and in the community. The other pastors they can count on as a trusted friend.
Pray for your pastor and his family (you can let him know as well). Serve with your pastor (find out when he arrives and leaves, and help out in the church ministries). Share with your pastor what God is doing in your life. Keeping growing in your faith and sharing the gospel of Jesus. Encourage your pastor with words of appreciation. Bless his wife and kids. Pastors are human after all, and they desire to see fruit from their labor for the Lord. Praying this is helpful and a blessing, and for more of my pastor friends to stay strong in the Lord.