Today, October 1, marks the first day of Pastor Appreciation Month. My next series of blogs might seem a little self-serving since I'm a pastor's wife, but I sure hope you hear my heart. As a pastor's wife I see first-hand the good, the bad and the ugly of my husband Anthony's ministry life. On any given Sunday, he might be enjoying the best day in ministry he's ever had, then one conversation with one person can turn that best day into the worst day in ministry he's ever had. And that's only one day of the week.
Of course many of the difficulties he experiences have their root in the spiritual realm. The Bible tells us that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12) And yet, sometimes those principalities look a lot like people!
Then add to that the demands of a large family, rambunctious children and a wife whose love language is quality time. I'm certain that at times our "haven" doesn't always feel like one to Anthony. This busy season could wear out any man with any occupation.
So, I really want to spend my next few posts encouraging our pastors, or at least encouraging us to encourage our pastors. Hopefully, you'll find some encouragement in them too. After all, according to 1 Peter 2:9a all believers "are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God."
If you're a pastor or a pastor's wife and you find this ministry life difficult, please know you're not alone. I came across some statistics on pastors today that Mark Deymaz, our directional and founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas, shared in a sermon some time ago. I'll share a few with you:
- Those in ministry are equally likely to have their marriage end in divorce as general church members. In fact, pastors have the second highest divorce rate among all professions.
- 25% don't know where to turn when they have a family or personal conflict or issue.
- 40% of pastors and 47% of pastor's spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules and/or unrealistic expectations
- 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family's well-being and health
- 70% don't have any close friends
- 56% of pastor's wives say they have no close friends
- 57% of pastors would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do
- 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear and alienation
- 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively
- 90% work more than 50 hours a week
- 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family
So for the month of October, please remember to encourage your pastor or pastors somehow. Whether it's a short note or email, or whatever the Lord lays on your heart, please follow through. They need the encouragement.
And we need them.