October is “Pastor Appreciation Month.” I would encourage members of churches to find ways to encourage their pastoral team all year round. However, let me encourage your church to be intentional this October in blessing your pastor(s) and their family.
Why? Pastors are struggling in Canada
Recent studies and surveys are indicating this. In an EFC article, based on current research, the following was stated:
- Most common threats to pastoral well-being is too many time demands, criticism, conflict, and loneliness.
- Full time pastors average 51.7 hour work weeks.
- Burn out is more common among younger and unmarried pastors.
- 50% of surveyed pastors rated their stress level at 7 out of 10.
- French language pastors ranked themselves lower in overall satisfaction.
CLERGY CARE HOTLINE
Our Fellowship is in partnership with several other Canadian evangelical denominations with Focus on the Family. We pay an annual fee that enables Fellowship pastors, pastors’ spouses, and children along with Fellowship International missionaries, Fellowship Chaplains and their families to phone the CLERGY CARE HOTLINE (1-800-5CLERGY) and get a qualified Christian counselor on the phone. You’re allowed two to three phone calls before being referred to a Christian counselor in your area. And our Fellowship Health Plan does have some coverage for counselor fees.
Your call is completely confidential. National or Regional leaders have no idea who calls. However, I did recently ask the service what the top reasons were for the enquiries. They were as follows:
- Marriage crisis
- Rebelling/prodigal children
- Struggles with pornography
- Church/leadership conflict
- Identity crisis through loss of ministry or retirement
- Spiritual crisis
The #1 ranked medical condition needing medication in our very own Fellowship Health Plan are medications for high blood pressure. Depression medication is ranked #3.
Thom Rainer on Burn-Out Prevention
Thom spoke at our FNC 2015 in Gatineau, QC. He is a prolific writer on the church and clergy. In an article “From Burn Out to Vision,” he shares 12 ways pastors went from burnout to vision. He spoke to 17 pastors who had experienced burn out who later re-engaged into exciting ministries after getting healthy. Thom asked them what they did to reverse their dark spiral of burnout. Thom tabulated 12 answers which were most common to all pastors. Things such as:
- Spent more time in prayer and God’s Word.
- Stopped comparing.
- Developed relationships with non-Christians.
- ...among other things.
One stood out for me — expressed gratitude regularly.
One pastor wrote: “I dealt with impending burnout by committing to handwrite five letters of gratitude a week. It was amazing to see how my vision began to restore when I took the focus off me and expressed gratitude to others.” That is good medicine.
Let’s reach out to our pastors and their families, especially in October. Start planning how to make October a special month for your pastor(s) and their family. And remember pastor, it is your responsibility to take care of yourself. You can do it better than anyone else.