Being a pastor is not an easy job. It includes long days and nights of preparing sermons, counseling the hurting and praying for the congregation. Pastors and their families live under incredible pressures. Their lives are played out in a fishbowl, with the entire congregation and community watching their every move. They are expected to have ideal families, to be perfect people, to always be available, to never be down and to have all the answers we need to keep our own lives stable and moving forward. Those are unrealistic expectations to place on anyone.
The following statistics from a recent survey of pastors should cause us all to appreciate the enormous pressure our church leaders are under: 84 percent say they’re on call 24 hours a day, 54 percent find the role of pastor frequently overwhelming, 53 percent are often concerned about their family’s financial security, 72% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and 78% of pastors report having their vacation and personal time interrupted with ministry duties or expectations.
The nature of the service provided by pastors and their families is unique. God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments – the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his or her parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned.
The good news is that we can make a difference! October is Pastor Appreciation Month and it gives us a unique opportunity to counter the negative erosion in their lives with the positive affirmation they need. Pastor Appreciation Month officially began in 1992 as a way to encourage congregations to show their appreciation, love and support for their pastors. This affirmation can provide new life and energy for a pastor who may be dealing with burnout, disillusionment, frustration, isolation, or stress. Because pastors are often “on call” around the clock, special recognition for the work they do is more than called for.
The Bible calls us to honor and encourage those whom God has called to proclaim His message and lead His people. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work” (1 Thess. 5:12-13).
A pastor that is appreciated by the majority in his congregation is a pastor that can press forward confidently knowing that his people are with him. A pastor who knows he is loved…is constantly encouraged…filled with excitement, optimism, and courage.
Take time this October and do something special for your pastor. Here are some suggestions that will make your pastor’s life better and should be done not only this month but throughout the year: Stop criticizing every little thing you do not agree with. Ask God to shower your pastor with an abundance of love, hope, joy, faith, peace, power and wisdom. When you hear or see something you like from your minister, write an appreciative note. Volunteer to serve and be an active participant in your church.
By serving your shepherds, you will ensure that they will not only be encouraged but will feel appreciated and continue to minister with enthusiasm and energy.