A Time To Encourage Pastors

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7, ESV).

As a senior pastor for 49 years, I enjoyed getting up in the morning and going to work. I had the privilege of working with other pastors that enjoyed their job too.

We felt called, we wanted to serve God, and we wanted to win the lost and disciple the saved.

Having been around pastors for decades, I would sum up their attitude in three ways …

  • They loved their job
  • They were certain of their calling
  • They were determined to finish well

The “satisfied pastor” in our churches is changing. They are increasingly discouraged, questioning their calling, and considering moving to another occupation.

In a recent Barna Report entitled The State of Pastors, I found the following statistics …

  • In 2015, 72 percent of pastors said they felt “very satisfied” with their job. In 2022, this number dropped to 52 percent. The Barna report said, “That’s an eye-popping 20-point drop over the course of just seven years.
  • In 2015, two in three pastors (66 percent) said they were more confident in their calling than they were when they started their jobs. By 2022, just 35 percent said they were more confident. Troubling – a 31 percent drop.
  • In January of 2021, only 29 percent of pastors said they’d given serious thought to leaving the ministry, but in October 2021 (just ten months later), that number jumped 10 percentage points to 39 percent.

Uh, oh, for the church in America.

The Barna Report said that in 2022 just one in 10 pastors reported their emotional health was excellent, while one in five said their physical health was below average or poor.

Why the dismal statistics? Covid did impact pastors, but it’s more than Covid. I believe there are other factors.

  • Demonic:  The evil spirit of this age is discouragement – resulting in fear, anxiety, and depression. 
  • Disconnected:  It’s difficult for pastors to develop close relationships with the congregations they lead. Often the pastor feels like an emotional “island” in the middle of negative cultural currents and distressed church members.
  • Dissension:  With a society of anything, anytime, anyway, and with anyone, or extreme narcissism as the philosophy of this age, it’s very difficult to plot a course of spiritual maturity without conflict. 

What can we do?

Of course, we must pray but also encourage. The author of Hebrews says …

Encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (Hebrews 10:25, NLT).

The word “encourage” in the Greek means “called alongside.” Jesus called the Spirit “the Paraclete,” which also means “called alongside” or “helper” (John 14:26).

Let’s consider an “encouragement” project to walk alongside our pastors.

Why don’t we run out today and get a $100 gift card (or a lesser amount) to a good restaurant in our community and send it to our pastor?

You can do anything else, and I’m sure that your pastor will greatly appreciate the kindness.

My pastor loves Chic-fil-A – that’s where I’m going.

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