Nearly every month it breaks my heart to hear of another minister getting out of the ministry. There are lots of reasons ministers get out… yes, sometimes they’re moral issues, but most of the time they leave because they’re burnt out or pushed out. Not only has there become a minister shortage because good men are wanting out, but it seems we are no longer encouraging our youth to consider full-time ministry.
Sometimes there’s not a lot of appreciation in the local congregations for their ministers, and sadly, some churches see their minister as only a hired-hand, simply there to do a job. One of the best posts on this subject was done by Patrick Mead last August. You can read it here. As great as the post was, it was the comments that were so powerful.
Many ministers feel over worked and under appreciated. A former minister who recently left the ministry to do secular work wrote this about getting out of the ministry, “I’m loving it (being out of the ministry). I’m actually excited about a secular job that only requires 40 hours a week, I get weekends and holidays off, and I can leave the job at the office.”
Did you know that statistics show…
- 80 percent of ministers say they have insufficient time with their spouse and that ministry has a negative effect on their family.
- 40 percent report a serious conflict with a church member once a month.
- 58 percent of ministers indicate that their spouse needs to work either part time or full time to supplement the family income.
- 45 percent of ministers’ wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual burnout.
- 21 percent of ministers’ wives want more privacy.
- Ministers who work fewer than 50 hours a week are 35 percent more likely to be terminated.
And we wonder why there is a minister shortage. I’m not pointing fingers here, but trying to figure out what we need to do to reverse the curse of good ministers walking out of ministry. What we need to do is love, encourage and appreciate those who do full time ministry. Here are a few ways…
- Pray for him regularly. This may be the greatest thing you can do for him. Include him in your daily prayers, and then tell him you’re praying for him. You might even ask him occasionally, “Is there anything I can be praying about for you?”
- Instead of being critical, tell him what he’s doing right. Too many times we focus on the things that we don’t like about people instead of what they are doing right. Instead of saying the sermons are too long, too deep, too simple, or too short (like that would ever happen), tell him what you like about his sermons. Instead of pointing out the negatives in his life, look for some positive things. Make sure you tell him regularly what he’s doing right.
- Give him time off and allow him a life outside the church. Ministers are on call 24/7 and so it’s good when they can have some “down time.” Here are some ways you can do this… Encourage your preacher to take time off to vacation with his family or just get away. Another thing you can do is respect your preacher’s day off. Any preacher would drop what they are doing to help you in a crisis on their day off, but don’t call him on his day off to have him look up a church phone number or address for you.
- Be willing to work with your preacher. Don’t expect him to do everything. Ask him if you can go make visits with him or volunteer to help when needed. Nothing is more frustrating to a preacher than having to beg for help. Don’t starve your preacher but pay him a fair salary. There used to be an old joke about how churches would pray for their preachers, “Lord, if you’ll keep him humble, we’ll keep him poor.” It’s appalling that there are churches that assume that the preacher is in a “spiritual” vocation and doesn’t need to be paid as much as similar people in the community.
- Bless your preacher’s wife and kids. Don’t expect more from the preacher’s family than you would other’s families. They don’t need to be placed up on a pedestal. The minister’s wife is the most important person in your minister’s life. She is the one that encourages him, strengthens him and supports him. The task of being the preacher’s wife is the most under appreciated roll in the world. Also, your preacher’s kids are normal kids. They will make mistakes, and they will need encouragement too. Encourage your preacher’s wife and kids.
- Write him a note of encouragement. Not a “to do” list, but a note saying, “I appreciate you,” or “Thank you.” There’s nothing like finding an email or note in the mail with a kind word or an encouraging remark. You can’t over encourage you preacher.
- Talk kindly about him in the community. Don’t criticize him or his family in the coffee shop, beauty shop or other local gathering place. What kind of influence are you going to be if you try to invite someone to church right after you’ve told them that the “sermons will put you to sleep.” I actually knew a woman one time that did nothing but complain about her preacher to her family and all over the community. Then in the same breath she’d exclaim, “I don’t know why I can’t get my husband to come to church with me?”
- Check your preacher’s work load. I’m sure there are a few lazy preachers out there, but most are work-a-holics. Is their boat overloaded? Is there something you could do to relieve some of the pressure of his work load? Believe it or not, preachers do work more than one day a week
- Do something nice for your preacher. I’m not saying, “Buy them a house,” but I am saying that doing something nice shows a lot of love. I can think of plenty of examples: I remember a gift certificate to a local restaurant, and one of my most valued possessions is a quilt that was hand made especially for my family. I could go on. It means so much when people do nice things for you. Find out what your minister likes or what restaurant he likes the most – then surprise him.
There are too many preachers burning out and getting out of the ministry these days. We just need to do a little encouraging. I’m very thankful to be in a very encouraging congregation that blesses both me and my family. I pray every minister can experience a loving congregation and we can somehow learn to keep good men from quitting full-time ministry. Now, get out there people and show your minister (or minister’s) a little love and appreciation!
- I would love to know … can you think of another way to encourage your minister?