October is “Pastor Appreciation Month,” and this special designation offers the ideal opportunity for those serving under their leadership to show their pastor the respect, adoration and appreciation they deserve.
In order to do this adequately, understanding the day-to-day life of a pastor and defining the stresses they deal with on a regular basis can be helpful.
A 2015 study by LifeWay Research explored the so called “doomsday stats” as it relates to pastors’ overall satisfaction with their job. These stats, which LifeWay was unable to track down from their source, implied that pastor’s were leaving the ministry in droves: some 1,500 a month, and were overall unhappy in their ministry, with around 77% of them being unsatisfied. When LifeWay was unable to ascertain the sources behind these depressing numbers, they decided to do their own study on those in the ministry.
The reality of the ministry today is actually much better than the depressing representation from other studies. In actuality, only a tiny fraction of pastors are leaving their ministry each year — only around 1%. Furthermore, even the small number of pastors who do leave on a yearly basis are often not leaving due to unhappiness or dissatisfaction with their job. Scott McConnell, who is the Executive Director of LifeWay Research, explained the study.
“Pastors are not leaving the ministry in droves,” he said. “This pasturing is a brutal job…the problem isn’t that pastors are quitting — the problem is that pastors have a challenging work environment.”
According to the study by LifeWay, pastors do feel overwhelmed and burdened at work. The research revealed that 84% of the pastors surveyed say they are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This time commitment alone, to be ever available for their congregation, can be burdensome. Being a pastor also means, though, that they often face conflict and difficult, challenging conversations. Around 80% of pastors claim conflict in church is a regular part of their job. This extensive burden means 54% of pastors feel their role is overwhelming, and another 48% feel the responsibilities and demands their ministry requires is more than they can handle.
Although the doom and gloom stats mentioned earlier aren’t exactly accurate, the true to reality numbers still reveal a simple fact that being that pastors are often overworked, under-appreciated and stressed. Therefore, it’s up to the members of each congregation to keep the following in mind when it comes to how they treat and serve their pastors:
- Give Them Grace as a Human: Many times, congregations forget that pastors are human beings. They often deal with doubt, discouragement, depression and the like, just like everyone else. Therefore, simply remembering they too struggle can go a long way.
- Understand They Have a Family Too: Many congregations expect the pastor’s family to take a back seat to the needs of the congregation members. This is simply wrong. The pastor’s family should be their first priority, behind only their walk with the Lord in importance. To ask more of them then this is unfair and can lead to a breakdown within the pastor’s family unit.
- Know They Appreciate a Thankful Heart: Just because it a pastor’s “job” to preach, and visit congregation members in the hospital, preside over weddings and perform funerals doesn’t mean they don’t like to hear thank you every now and then for their efforts. After all, everyone wants to feel what they do matters.
This month is a great opportunity for congregations to show their pastor they are loved, appreciated and not taken for granted. A nice card, expressing thanks is always a good idea. Of course, if a church has the resources, sending a pastor on a short all expenses paid vacation, with their family, can be even better. The primary goal is for each congregation to communicate how much their pastor means and to show them they are valued and loved. In this way, a congregation reduces their pastor’s risk of experiencing discouragement and depression and hopefully, encourage them to continue their ministry.
~ 1776 Christian