Last week I posted a picture to Facebook that sparked a great deal of discussion.
I was helping lead the training for the Ecclesia Network Church Planters Training Week in Richmond, VA. My good friend Bob Hyatt was leading one of the sessions “Keeping Heart Til the End” – an extremely important session for church planters to learn about. In fact, I think it may be the most important session offered last week. In the training manual, Bob listed some devastating and deeply sobering statistics about pastors. As he was teaching, I sat in the back of the room stunned at what I was hearing and reading. I took a picture of one of the pages in the manual that listed some devastating statistics and posted it to Facebook.
Immediately, people began responding. Some were heavy-hearted. Some were shocked. Several asked for a list of stats from the whole page. Others asked for the source of these statistics.
After the session, I asked Bob about the source of the statistics and he sent me to this valuable site as a great resource. There are also other statistics at the beginning of the brief intro video for Kairos Partnerships.
With such heart-sinking stats, what is to be done? What do pastors need – and more specifically, what does your pastor need to help change these numbers?
First, your pastor needs your prayers. When was the last time you prayed for them? When was the last time you prayed for them consistently and with commitment over a long period of time? If you do nothing else, start there. Pray.
Second, your pastor needs the opportunity to share how they are really doing – and know that they won’t be punished for it. Your pastor needs to space to take off the Superman cape and be accepted as a person first and a pastor second (or third or fourth or fifth on the list).
Third, your pastor needs rest. Can you encourage your elders to make sure your pastors have time to rest, to play and to spend time with their families?
Fourth, your pastor needs friends – both inside and outside of your church. Encourage your pastor to spend time with friends (even if they are out of state). Give them time, space and permission to do that – and not feel guilty about it.
Fifth, your pastor needs counseling. Yep, your pastor is screwed up. All pastors are sinners – and God wants to do His work in them, too. Pastors need to protect their hearts, for it is the spring from which life flows (see Proverbs 4). If a major league pitcher’s throwing arm goes, he’s forced to retire. If your pastor’s heart goes, they are done. Encourage your pastor to seek out a wise, God-seeking counselor — and go regularly.
If you are an elder, set aside part of the church budget for this to be covered so your pastor doesn’t have to pay for this out of their own pocket. Think about it this way: We take our car in for a tune-up. Why wouldn’t we take our hearts in when they have so much more value and significance in life? I speak from experience when I say this: its valuable and necessary.
A healthy pastor and a healthy church are closely related. Encourage healthy environments where your pastor can be healthy. And encourage your pastor to be healthy because it will lead to a healthy church.