A lot of people think pastors work just one day a week. The reality is quite the opposite. Most pastors are fortunate to get one day off per week. Most are on-call 24/7. When it comes to an erratic schedule, a pastor is like a firefighter or a police officer, except he has to stop at red lights, often in a very used car or truck that’s seen better days.
Pastors serve as the “CEO” of an organization, they cast vision, manage a staff, counsel church members in need and motivate unpaid volunteers.
In one day a pastor may visit a new mother and her child in the hospital – and then take an elevator down one floor and sit with a dying church member. They become intimately acquainted with joy and grief and laughter and tears.
Everybody wants their pastor to preach a good sermon. But good sermons usually take time to prepare – and a lot of pastors are a one man band and don’t have the luxury of sitting quietly at a desk for several hours at a time. Yes, people want a good sermon, but some like them short and others like them long. And if the pastor goes over, the workers in the nursery get angry – and the people in the pews get irritated if it makes them late for Sunday brunch or kickoff of the football game.
Indeed, being a pastor is tough work! Which is why, I think, you can understand how so many pastors face severe burnout and stress.
What can be done about it?
Here at Focus, we have a team that tends to the needs of pastors and their families. We hear about their burdens. We pray with them and for them.
And every October, we do all we can to promote Clergy Appreciation Month (CAM) to churches. CAM is a special time of the year where we honor pastors and their families for their hard work, commitment and sacrificial dedication. Time and time again we’ve seen how seemingly small gestures go a long way towards encouraging pastors and their families in their service.
The apostle Paul encouraged believers to recognize God’s servants when he wrote, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17). It’s a good word.
I’d like to encourage you to visit a special page our Thriving Pastor outreach has prepared to help congregations think through what they can do to honor their pastors during Clergy Appreciation Month. At www.thrivingpastor.org/clergyappreciation you’ll find a planning guide (available in both English and Spanish) that will help walk you through the process of thanking your pastor during this month. You might also want to read a post I wrote a few years ago that provides 31 ways to encourage pastors.
So, please, take this opportunity to encourage your pastor. In fact, don’t wait for October each year, but make it a habit.
And the next time he goes over during the sermon, why not cut him some slack?