PROTECTING YOUR PASTOR AND HIS HOME
Someone shared with me they had retrieved from the Internet that was actually published in 1996 in Christianity Today. It deals with the relationship between church members and their pastor, his home, and his family. It was written by a Mr. Ed Rowell. He had some very astute observations and made some very pertinent suggestions. I thought The Challenger would be a good place to share some of his ideas.
You may or may not be aware of the fact that recent studies indicate that the role of minister/pastor is ranked as a “high stress”
occupation. Christianity has seen in recent years a rise in various problems resulting from that stress–infidelity, failed marriages,
financial mismanagement, even drug and alcohol addictions. Here are men and women who have devoted themselves to meeting needs. These often are not just spiritual needs but physical and emotional needs as well of an entire congregation. They, in turn, are left with their own needs unmet.
“Don’t answer it! Please let’s just finish eating one meal without you talking on the phone.”
“No, dear. It might be important. They’re our people, you know…”
However, when the caller identified herself and her reason for calling the pastor was a little chagrined. Sister Suzy wanted to know who had borrowed the linen tablecloths. They would be needed for a luncheon in two weeks on Saturday and they were not in the closet.
Now, realistically Sister Suzy could have called the church office during office hours. In fact, she could have called the church office after office hours and left a message on the answering machine. However, to her the missing tablecloths were equally as important as the disappearance of child or some other disaster. To her, the pastor must be called–immediately!
Pastors – and their wives and children are human beings. They require food and deep just like other humans. Their families require time to pray together and play together. Their marriages require the same attention to survive that any one else’s does. However, too often, we feel that by definition our pastor and his time and energy belong to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And, should we call and the pastor have the nerve to not be available, we wonder what we’re paying him for. Should we call and get an answering machine – God forbid! – we become agitated and wonder if he’s screening our call.
However, can I ask a question here? Do you call your doctor at home? How about the mechanic that works on your lawnmower? Your child’s school teacher? These are all individuals to whose livelihood you make a financial contribution. Yet you respect their time, their office hours, their limits. Why is it so difficult to extend this courtesy to your pastor?
I think as District Superintendent personally being acquainted with every pastor in his District – I can assure you that your pastor
is willing and quick to respond to genuine emergencies. But sometimes, the family who needs him; the child who needs his attention most is not yours, but his own.
Let’s make a commitment here and now to protect our pastors. Protect your pastor, his time, his home life. He’ll be a better pastor – and you’ll be a better person for it.
Are your expectations for your pastor unrealistic? Depending on the size of your congregation, how many hours would be required if you took what you demand of him and multiplied it by the number of other congregants.
One dear sister said, “Brother Pastor stopped by my house to see how I was doing the other day. But you know, he only stayed five
minutes. I tried to got him to stay and visit with me. But he just wouldn’t do it. He came in and was very nice about it prayed with me and everything – but he just didn’t stay long enough.” It was the flu season. That particular pastor may have had 10 or 15 other people to visit. If he allotted 30 minutes to each one it would have taken him all day and then some just to do the hospital and home visitation for the week.
Mr. Rowell said in his article, “People in ministry live with an incredible amount of unfinished business. To cope with this, some
pastors need permission, even insistence, that they limit their hours of ministry in order to give time to their families. One church limited every staff member’s normal work week to 50 hours, including church services. They minimized evening meetings to insure the pastor could be home. Days off were respected except for true e emergencies.”
Why don’t you ease your pastor’s work load? Don’t make it heavier by not calling him when you need him. If he keeps office hours – and what you need to say to him can wait until he’s in the office – call him tomorrow instead of tonight during the dinner hour.
Before you dial the pastor’s home phone number the next time, ask yourself a few questions: Is there someone else who could answer this question? Is my call urgent? Would it be better if I called the church office?
The next time it’s time to buy a gift for your pastor–for Pastor Appreciation; or his birthday; or the church anniversary, why not give him a trip? Give him permission to take a few days alone together with his family. If your church can afford it make it a big trip. If your church funds are limited, even a day off somewhere somewhere nice, close by, can tee rejuvenating.
While speaking of birthdays and anniversaries check your church calendar against your pastor’s families red-letter days. Don’t schedule a church banquet on the pastor’s wife’s birthday. Or, if that’s the only day that will work for the banquet, be sure the pastor gets another evening off for the specific reason of celebrating with his wife.
Another note here, too: Don’t neglect your pastor’s children. They have birthdays, too. Remember them. It will mean a lot to them–and to your pastor and his wife as well.
A very important way you can support your pastor and his family is in the ministry of intercession. Your pastor’s family is under
intense spiritual attack. Specific, committed prayer support will strengthen them in the battle.
Pray specifically for each family member by name, for specific needs. If you don’t know what to pray for, if you are truly a man or
woman of prayer that can be trusted to pray, and not to talk. I am sure your pastor would be glad to know you are specifically praying for him and his family–and would share certain needs with you.
By the way, Sister Suzy called back later. She found the tablecloths. On the second shelf of the kitchen closet–right where they’d always been.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE KENTUCKY DISTRICT NEWS, AUGUST 1998, PAGE 5.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.