October is Pastor Appreciation Month. It’s a great time to thank our pastors and their families for their faithful service.
But don’t just stop at saying thanks. Make a commitment to pray for your pastors and their families. Specifically, pray for your pastors’ marriage. Here’s how to get started:
Pray about your pastor’s workload
Not only are pastors responsible for their own family, but they’re also expected to take care of families in their church. Such expectations lead to long hours and extra work. Research compiled by Pastoral Care Inc. asked pastors about their workload. The data show:
- 72 percent of pastors worked between 55 and 75 hours a week.
- 84 percent of pastors felt they were on call 24/7.
- 78 percent of pastors said their vacation or personal time is interrupted by ministry needs.
- 54 percent of pastors say the work is overwhelming.
- 57 percent of pastors cannot pay their bills because their job doesn’t pay enough.
Speaking of paying the bills, nearly one-third of pastors are bi-vocational — working a full- or part-time job to supplement their church pay. The long hours and extra tasks weigh heavily on pastors and sap their strength, leaving little time or energy for their spouse.
Pastor appreciation starts by learning about your pastor’s workload and the demands on his or her family.
Ways to pray:
- Pray that your pastor will set healthy boundaries around work and personal time.
- Pray that God will raise up leaders in your church who can help your pastor handle the workload.
Pray about your pastor’s home life
Long hours and high expectations can negatively affect any marriage. But pastors and their families face additional pressures. A pastor’s family is always on display; the pastor’s marriage is scrutinized; pastors’ children are pressured to be models of good behavior. When spouses or children fail to live up to unrealistic expectations, they become the subject of unhealthy gossip. Many pastor’s children leave the church because of how church members treated their family.
Such pressures, along with the 24/7 demands on the pastor’s time, can leave a minister’s family feeling discouraged, angry or broken. According to Pastoral Care Inc., 80 percent of pastors believe their ministry has negatively affected their families.
Pastor appreciation means treating your pastor’s spouse and family with love and care.
Ways to pray:
- Pray that your pastor and his or her family will be able to have — and enjoy — a healthy family life.
- Pray for your pastor’s spouse and encourage him or her whenever you have the chance.
Pray about your pastor’s spiritual life
The pastor is the most spiritual person in the church … right? The truth is that your pastor is a human being — just like you. They have ups and downs, good days and bad days. Sometimes, they’re rested and ready to face the day. Other times, they feel empty and exhausted.
Your pastor faces other challenges that may harm his or her spiritual life. Pastoral Care Inc. reports that half of all pastors say they spend less than an hour a day in prayer. When it comes to praying with their spouse, 95 percent of pastors confessed to “not praying daily or regularly with their spouse.” Slightly more than one-third of pastors admit to struggling with depression, while 70 percent say they “do not have someone they consider a close friend.”
Pastor appreciation means praying for your pastor’s spiritual life and the effect it has on their spouse.
Ways to pray:
- Ask God to protect your pastor’s heart. It’s easy for a minister to make mistakes when they approach the ministry from a place of exhaustion and loneliness.
- Pray that your pastor will find a safe, trusted friend who can help them make wise decisions about time, family and church commitments.
Pastor Appreciation is more than a once-a-year event. You can show appreciation all year long. Start today by praying for your pastor’s family and your pastor’s marriage. Find ways to encourage them in the coming year. Your pastor will appreciate it.