I grew up as a pastor’s kid, so I’ve always attributed my heart for ministry leaders to watching my dad week in and week out. While I never received a call to preach or to be involved in full-time ministry (although I believe we’re all called to this), I’ve always been passionate about supporting those who have received that calling. I can honestly say I grew up seeing some of the worst, out of so-called “Christians” and saw my dad betrayed and abandoned by men who were supposed to be supporting him. I remember as a child being angry at these men, for being so selfish and self-absorbed. They left my parents to fend for themselves financially, emotionally and spiritually. I remember thinking then, that I would dedicate my life to helping whatever leaders God put in my path, to be someone they could rely on.
So many times we put our pastors and church leaders up on a pedestal — when in reality, their role in ‘the church’ is no greater than our own. We are all called to fulfill a part in the body of Christ. A pastors responsibility is certainly greater, because they are handling God’s word and laying it all on the line for us week in and week out. As such, we should lift them up in prayer, support them and encourage them — and not just them, but their spouse and their children as well.
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among the pastors and worship leaders I know and follow online. Their schedules are jam packed with conferences, meetings, retreats and seminars. They are constantly traveling, writing, meeting with people, counseling, speaking at multiple services throughout the week — often 3 or 4 services just on Sunday. All of these things are awesome — but I know from personal experience as a kid watching his dad — all of that stuff can and will drain the utter life out of you and your family.
This may be blatantly obvious to most, but I think it’s something we need to constantly be reminded of. Behind our responsibility to God, our responsibility to our family is our #1 priority above all else. If our family fails, everything else fails with it.
The same holds true for our pastors and worship leaders – even more so. As church-goers or as fellow ministry leaders, we need to be mindful that a pastors ministry begins at home. We need to be respectful of their time and their schedule. What some do not realize is that a pastor’s job is not a one-day event, it’s a day in, day out, 24/7/365 gig. There are hours of preparation that go into the final product we see on Sundays… at least if they’re doing it right. Delivering God’s word is not a small chore — it’s a demanding one, often filled with anxiety and fear. This is the life of a pastor that most of us do not see or understand. And that is just the sermon.
The schedules I see from a lot of pastors concerns me. It’s not because I think they’re doing anything wrong. Most pastors I know just don’t know how to say no and don’t know when to ask for help. What concerns me more is the support system that’s around them. Is there one? Are they surrounded by men and women looking out for their #1 ministry? Are they close to people that will speak honestly to them and tell them when they’ve taken on too much? Is there someone helping them, ensuring that their schedule reflects the proper priorities, in the correct order?
Pastors: my heart goes out to you. I know it’s difficult to say no, especially when the opportunity seems so right. But earnestly pray and seek wisdom from your wife and family, your close friends and fellow leaders to make sure that “yes” is the correct response. Be mindful that your God, your wife and your children are your priorities – in that exact order. When those things are aligned, everything else will fall into place.
Ministry leaders, worship leaders: all of the above, plus one more thing. Watch out for your pastor. Lift him up before God and be there for him when he needs someone to listen to him and speak truth into his life. Remind him that his family comes first and help him plan his schedule accordingly. Be sure that he gets a complete break from all responsibilities every few weeks or so, to rest his mind, body and spirit. Make sure you do the same!
To the rest of us: know that our responsibility to ‘the church’ is no less important than the role of a pastor. We are equally important in God’s eyes… and equally responsible to our family. If you attend a large church, you probably find it difficult to know how to approach this subject, but the most important thing you can do is pray. Pray for your pastor, his spouse and their children. Pray for your worship leaders and ministry leaders and their families. Love on them and encourage them.
I’ve seen it happen firsthand… Satan can completely destroy a church community from within. And it can happen overnight because someone allowed their church obligations to take precedence over their own family. Are we being vigilant? Are we looking for the warning signs in our own life (I Peter 5:8)? Are we looking out for our pastors and church leaders?
What is your role in the church? How can you help your pastor and church leaders maintain their priorities?