The bad news is this: pastors today are faced with more stress, more problems and more challenges than ever before. Statistics today are frightening. More and more pastors are leaving the ministry. Why? Because they are human, and can't everything that everyone expects them to be.
We, the church, are expecting pastors to be many things that they aren't called to be. Instead of allowing God to define their ministry, we've created our own definition. This definition takes him from being our spiritual leader and protector, and made the pastor into our baby sitter and servant.
Take a look at these alarming statistics:
• Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.
• Four thousand new churches begin each year, but over seven thousand churches close.
• Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
• Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
• Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
• Eighty-five percent of pastors said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors. Ninety percent said the hardest thing about ministry is dealing with uncooperative people.
• Seventy percent of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
• Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
• Eighty percent of pastor' wives feel left out and unappreciated by the church members.
• Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
• Eighty percent of pastors' wives feel pressured to do things and be something in the church that they are really not.
• The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
The bad news is that your pastor, like pastors everywhere is at risk of becoming just another statistic. He is expected to do so much, be so much, and give so much that many times there is nothing left for him. We, the church, can't afford to keep losing pastors to burnout and contention.
What Can You Do?
Pray For Your Pastor
The greatest gift you can give your pastor is to take the time to pray for him. We need to realize that pastors and other ministers are prime targets for the devil. If he can cause a believer to fall, it's a victory for his kingdom. But, if he can cause a minister to fall, he can hurt the lives of many other believers. We have a responsibility before God to hold up our leaders in prayer, and seek God's protection over their lives.
Be Reasonable in Your Expectations
Too many people expect the pastor to be everything. I have heard stories about people expecting their pastor to pick up their children from school, talk to them when they can't sleep, mow their lawn, and fix their car. God has given specific instructions about what a pastor is supposed to be. Let him be it, and protect the calling and anointing God has placed upon his life.
Compensate Him Appropriately.
There's an old line about the church board praying something like this, "Lord, you keep our pastor humble, and we'll keep him poor." That attitude is way too common. Pastors and their families have the same financial needs as everyone else in the congregation. In fact, they often have more expenses, because of the needs of visiting people and ministering to them.
When God established the tithe, he said that it was to go to the Levites (the ministers); not to pay for the mortgage on the church, the electric bill, and the youth field trip. At that time, the Levites consisted of about seven percent of the population of Israel. Therefore, if everyone tithed, the Levites received a little more than the average income of the congregation. This is a good guideline for us to use today. A pastor should receive slightly more than the average income of his congregation. That will allow his family to live and minister without having to worry about money.
Respect His Privacy and Time
So often, being a pastor is a 24-hour a day job. Granted, there are always emergencies that come up at the most inopportune times. But, a hangnail, or the flu isn't an emergency. Your pastor needs time to study, time to pray, time to rest, and time to be with his family.
Pastor's children have become a joke in our society today. Although the church expects them to be perfect, the world expects them to be hellions. Why? Because, they usually are. Why? Because dad is so busy taking care of everyone else, he doesn't have time for his own family. Don't expect him to give up his wife and children, to take care of yours. That's your job.
Let Your Pastor, and His Wife Know You Appreciate Them
Everyone needs some encouragement now and then. One of the motivational gifts mentioned in Romans 12: 6-8 is exhortation. This gift is badly lacking in the Body of Christ today. It is especially lacking towards those in ministry. We expect them to encourage us, forgetting that they need it as well. A kind, or encouraging word, a card, or even a small gift will work wonders to build up your pastor and help him to continue in the calling God has given him.
Don't let your pastor become a statistic. Be a blessing to him, so he can continue to be a blessing to you.
These statistics came from across denomination lines, and have been gleaned from various sources such as Pastor to Pastor, Focus on the Family, Ministries Today, Charisma Magazine, TNT Ministries, Campus Crusade for Christ and the Global Pastors Network.
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