Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Working Hard or Hardly Working?
Being a pastor is a tough job. Throughout the years I've heard some silly statements, such as the pastor works one day a week. Or being a pastor is not a real job. Most pastors are the target of much criticism. What makes one person happy will make someone else equally unhappy. Who do you please?
Many of the statements made about pastors are so incredibly disrespectful and filled with disdain. The general feeling is that the pastor has a pretty cushy job and is open for all sorts of comments, criticisms and sinful jabs. As the wife of a pastor it is so hurtful when people feel free to share these things with me. It actually makes me just shake my head in amazement at the things people say because if I said similar things about their husband or children they would be so angry. Yet, I'm supposed to just take it.
So the question comes about, "Does the pastor work hard or does he hardly work at all?"
For each man called into the ministry, his ministry will look different depending on his personality. Some pastors have strengths in counseling. Others are excellent administrators. Still others are very gifted in preaching and teaching. A church can have a handful of pastors over the course of 20 years and each one will be strong in one area and week in another.
Dan is extremely strong in outreach and is very relational. I wanted to share a few things he does with you and many of these things are behind the scenes. Many may not realize what he does because he doesn't walk around bragging about them.
He is the spiritual leader in not only our home but the church. He is not a control freak. He doesn't micromanage people. He is actually is a strong leader in the fact that he delegates. He knows what he is good at and he knows what he is weak in and he delegates those things to people who have strengths. That's not everyone's cup of tea but if you read any books on management, those type of people make the best leaders.
He spends time preparing sermons to preach and teach and he does it well and it takes time. He preaches approximately 48 weeks out of the year and doesn't just throw together the sermon. He prays, reads, and listens to the Holy Spirit's leading. He visits shut-ins every single week without fail. He visits people in our church every week and yes, often it's just playing a tennis game or having a cup of coffee but he's building relationships and helping them with any spiritual issues they have.
Dan has performed a wedding and two funerals in the 8 months he has been here which includes numerous hours spent with the families in planning. Sometimes he gets paid and sometimes he doesn't. He has also done some marriage counseling since we've been here. He has gotten to know all three of our neighbors and that takes time.
He is out in the community, making contacts and getting to know people. He sets the vision and tone for the church. He doesn't just pluck ideas out of the sky. He spends much time in thought and prayer about the direction he is leading the church. He spends time praying every single day for every single person in our church as well as for contacts he meets. On top of all this, he's been cutting the church yard as well as our own every single week. He's the chaplain for the local fire department. He tutors in the school system to make contacts.
He is involved in a local pastor's group and they meet monthly and do many joint events. And that is exactly what he should be doing. I do many things to help him, and I do it because I want to lighten his heavy load. I consider the things I do to help him a privilege and an honor. I don't do anything because I'm forced to do it. I do what I do because my role as Dan's wife is to be his helpmeet.
Dan's gifting is not in administration. It's in outreach. Even though he may not handle a lot of the little details, paperwork or phone calls does not make him a poor leader. He actually is a wise leader because he knows his weaknesses and he knows how to utilize other's gifts to be effective.
The pastorate is one of those jobs where the burden for other's spiritual wellness never goes away. It is always on your mind and even on days off, it's there beneath the surface, especially when church members are facing a hard time.
Throughout the years, we have had vacations, days off and special events take a backseat to a member's needs. While others can say "I'm not going to church today.", we don't have that luxury. While other people's children can pick and choose their friends, my children have to be friendly with everyone because of their Dad's job. If something goes wrong with the pastorate, the pastor and his family lose job, home, friends, school and church.
And on top of all that, he is an excellent husband and father. He is kind, caring and spends a lot of time with his family. He has been there for every single event our children have done. In fact, he has been better at that than I have. I'm proud of who he is and I would never, ever want him to be different.
God brought these scriptures to mind.
I Thessalonians 5:12-13 (MSG) ~
"And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love."
I Timothy 5:17 ~
"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine".
Those who labor in the word and doctrine should be honored because that truly is the pastor's most important job. In fact, the majority of his time should be spent in studying and reading God's word so that he can teach it well.
I hesitated blogging about this but I have so many friends who are married to pastors and we all struggle with these things. I thought it would be helpful for people to understand all that goes on behind the scenes that you may never see.
Let's remember that the pastorate is a tough job. Let's love them, pray for them, forgive them and keep the unkindness out of our speech and support and honor them.
We love being in ministry and most of the time it is a wonderful thing. We consider it an honor and privilege to minister to others. I am singing my husband praises here because I do want people to know how very hard he works. He has God's hand upon him and lives to serve Him.
And that is all that is truly important and that's all I need to remember.