Pastors Appreciation Day

I know I run the risk of appearing selfish by writing this - but I have discovered over the years that peoples perceptions of what pastors do and how they live varies - wildly! So here are a few questions you need to ask before you make any assumptions.

How does the pastor get paid? Does their denomination or fellowship pay their salary? Do they work outside of the church? Are they surviving on their spouses income? Does the church pay them?

What are the pastors personal expenses? Do they have health insurance? Do they have a retirement account? Do they have to be seriously concerned about their income?

Does your pastor get a paid vacation? Do they get a day off each week? Do they get a cost of living raise each year? Does the church provide for them opportunities to attend seminars or receive continuing education?

Does your pastor take advantage of a some tax breaks afforded by the IRS? It saves them money!

Here are a few assumptions that you need to discard in regards to pastors.
- Pastors only work one day a week. Most pastors work 6 days a week, not 5. Most pastors work 50 - 80 hours a week. Never less.
- Pastors make BIG money! Yes there are pastors who make a HUGE amount of money. But they are the exception, not the rule. 5% of pastors earn more than $50,000 a year while 14% earn less than $25,000.
- Pastors take a vow of poverty. Pastors do not take a vow of poverty.
- Being a pastors is easy. The stress level of pastors wrecks their family and marriage. One study actually ranked ministers as one of the most stressful jobs in America. The average divorce for first time marriages among people who attend church is a little over 33% - it is 50% for pastors.
- Pastors are called of God, therefore they serve for life. 1,500 pastors have to leave the ministry each month. (This is a old stat, but there is nothing to suggest that it has changed.).
- Pastors always have a great outlook on life and their future. 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.

This month is Pastors Appreciation Month - nation wide. Churches all across the nation are taking time to say thank you to their pastors and staff for their hard work and sacrifice. But what can you do? After reading above I wouldn't blame you if you never wanted to go into the ministry. It is an act of faith. But it is acts of faith that a church can take that will ensure that your pastor has a long, healthy and fruitful ministry.

1. PRAY for your pastors and their families. Pray that Satans plans against them will be destroyed before they even have a chance to prosper.
2. GROW in your relationship with Jesus. Christians who grow up become assets to the pastor and their church.
3. FIND something tangible that will help the pastor and his family. Don't tell them what you will do, offer them some options like. Let me change the oil in your car (have it done by a mechanic, if you mess up you might end up having to buy your pastor a car.) Let me mow your yard. Let me wash the windows on your house. (Ok I admit I am reaching here.) But you get the idea. Help them save time and money. Take the family out for dinner. Better yet, offer to send them somewhere for a day or two off.
4. TITHE AND GIVE This isn't about the pastors pay. This is about the churches vision. If the vision isn't supported well or at all - it doubles, even triples the pastors stress level and work load. Just believe me on that one.
5. NEVER assume that any sacrifices that a pastor or his family make are "just part of the job." Tell them thank you.

Years ago we hosted a missionary who came from overseas. They almost didn't make it. I'm not talking about to the church, I mean out of the country they were in. It got so bad that they sold every piece of furniture they had - ate nothing but fish for years (you could catch it yourself). They sacrificed everything they had to serve. When they got home they were burned out - stressed out and bitter. It wasn't pretty. I didn't know that we were the first church they were going to visit while here in the states. So when we took them out to lunch all they wanted was red meat. I took them to a BBQ place and told them to order whatever they wanted. 4 hours later I paid one of the biggest lunch bills I had ever paid. I wasn't upset about it at all. For the first time in years they felt that they were free from the tyranny of poverty and abuse.

Don't let your pastor or staff feel that way. Step up and do something - even in these tough economic times when everyone is making sacrifices - remember that it is getting harder, not easier for pastors. I talk to pastors every week and I know. When they feel genuinely appreciated and respected - they will descend into the gates of hell for you. They will cry with you. They will love you when you don't deserve it. A pastor in your life can make a difference. The question is, do you make a difference in their life?


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