Shepherding the shepherd

On Monday, I was browsing through my Kindle app for books to read. In my "Recommendations for You in Kindle Store" section, a brief book but a scary looking book called "Why Pastors Quit: Examining Why Pastors Quit and What We Can Do About It" popped up. Reading the title alone made my heart beat a little faster. It kind of scared me.

Well, it wasn't as scary as I thought it was going to be. The title was somewhat misleading as the book seemed to be more geared toward pastors who have already stepped out of the pastorate or wanting to reengage, but what I did find eerie were the statistics. Here are some of Lane's stats:

  • 80% believe that pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families,
  • 70% of pastors continually battle depression,
  • 85% of pastors consider leaving the ministry,
  • 63% feel lonely,
  • and 81% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.

The book validated many of the feelings and experiences I've had since I went into full-time vocational ministry. I was comforted to know I'm not alone. I do really wish there was more substance to the book or practical suggestions for pastors to finish the race, for pastoral families to thrive, and for congregations to come alongside their shepherds.

The reality is that ministry is difficult. A pastor, assistant, associate pastor, or worship pastor never really "clocks out." A pastor is a pastor all of the time. The responsibility is enormous as, to quote Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the pastor "is given charge of souls." Chris Brauns wrote in his blog post "Motivation for caring for your pastor":

"…think of your pastor as a beast of burden or an engine that serves you – – that grinds grain for your bread. Supporting your pastor is really about taking care of yourself."

Beast of burden? Hmmm… I never equated as a beast, but I guess it is both biblical and fitting. 

Yet, in my opinion, pastors have one of the most joyful, rewarding, and refining work. As the pastor of Missio Dei Church, I love the congregation that God has entrusted to me. I think about them all the time! I pray with and for them. I think about them as I write my sermons. I get to see the "ah ha" lights go on when they grasp something of the majesty of God. I get to creatively plan ministries, events, sermon series, etc. with other gifted individuals for the good of the congregation. I am privileged to walk with men and women, boys and girls who down the lifelong road of obedience in the same direction towards Christ (thank you Eugene Peterson). So, inspite of the hazaards of minstry, I am deeply thankful for the work that God has called me to be a part of at Missio Dei Church. At this point in my life, I wouldn't trade it for anything else!

But I have a heart for my pastor friends out there, some I know well and there are some that I only know through Facebook. I pray for them regularly. I hear about their peaks and valleys. I walk with the through wilderness seasons. I see the twinkle in their eye and I see their battle wounds. I love my brothers deeply. So, with Pastor Appreciation Month kicking off October 1, can I encourage you to do something with me? Pave the way for excellence and health in your pastor by shepherding your shepherd. Yep. You can do that. Encourage, love, and support the pastor(s) who are currently caring for you as they seek to faithfully fulfill all the duties of their ministries. Do it in wild and creative ways. It will be a blessing to them, their families, the church... and yes, you.

With Christ's love,

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