I recently read an article that came from a small town newspaper that surprised me. The reason for the surprise was twofold: 1.) this newspaper printed an article about the ministry 2.) It listed statistics that were alarming. The statistics were concerning the pressures of a pastor’s life and ministry. They were as follows:
· 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
· 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could.
· 80% of seminary and Bible school grads who enter the ministry leave within the first five years.
· 70 % of pastors fight depression.
· 50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce
· 80% of pastor’s spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
You might read that and think, “What’s wrong with those people? Can’t they just claim the promises they preach?” I’m sure they attempt to do just that on a daily basis. It’s just that there are so many things that come along on a daily basis that can dishearten a pastor. Let’s think about what I read recently concerning Moses ‘ministry and leadership. He faced hardships as the leader through:
· Criticism from the people – “you’ve brought us out here to the wilderness to die!”
· Lack of willingness from the people to follow and trust him – “We don’t want to leave
Egypt. You’ve caused enough trouble for us. Leave us alone!”
· Criticism from the people – “We want water!”
· His own body was physically tired – His arms grew weary in the battle of the Amalekites.
· Criticism from the people – “We want meat!”
· Physical and emotional exhaustion – He spent all day listening to the Israelites’ problems and helping them discern what was right.
That’s just up to Exodus 19! We know that still ahead is the disobedience of the people, continued complaining and criticism, serving other gods… and the cycle keeps on going!
This is not to say that there are not MANY blessings of being God’s man, called to do His work. Paul states in I Timothy 1:12 – “And I thank Christ Jesus our God who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” To see people trust Christ and grow in Him, to give out the Truth in preaching each week, and to encourage those that are going through hard times with the Scriptures is a blessing. But it isn’t without the hardships that are seen even in Moses’ ministry.
Is there a solution to the problem? Be to your pastor like an Aaron and Hur who lifted up Moses’ arms. Encourage those leaders that stand in the pulpit at your church. Grab their hand and express your appreciation to them for their faithful preaching of the Word, for being there when you need counsel, for staying faithful, even when they may feel like giving up! Pray for your pastor each day and remind him frequently of your prayer support. Encourage him with your face! While he’s preaching don’t sit and scowl; let the truth travel to your face. Nod, smile and encourage him that what he’s preaching is encouraging your heart! Don’t criticize your pastor and don’t listen to others’ criticism of him. You won’t agree with everything he does, but He is God’s man – stand behind him and love him. God will deal with him, when that is needed. Realize the difficulty of being in his place and determine not to be part of the bane of his ministry, but the blessing of it.
As a preacher’s wife I read articles such as the one in the paper and I know that it is true. I’m grateful for those that come alongside my husband to encourage him in His call. We have many people at BCBC that do just that. If you’re a member of another church, there are probably many you don’t know about that seek to support your pastor. Does that mean that your encouragement isn’t needed? Oh no! You may be just the one that could encourage him today like no one else could! However God leads you, hold up your pastor’s arms today so he can continue to fight the good fight and keep the faith! (I Timothy 4:7)