Are they worth it?

September 29, 2010 | Viewpoints | Number 19
By Kevin Davidson |

Life insurance considers their jobs more dangerous than munitions workers. Their profession has the second-highest divorce rate. Fifteen hundred of them leave their jobs each month. Their work has a negative impact on their families. If they work less than 50 hours per week, their chances of termination increase by 35 percent. And the list goes on and on. Who are they? Pastors!

Do we have a subconscious expectation today that our pastor not only be our spiritual mentor, but the church chief executive officer as well? With advances in technology, we want our pastor to be accessible to us 24/7.

After all, we own them, right? We are paying their salary!

Dr. Gwen Wagstrom Halas, a family physician who is married to a minister, says, “[Ministers] think that taking care of themselves is selfish, and serving God means never saying ‘no.’ ”

Amazingly, a recent survey reports that 87 percent of pastors are very satisfied in their work, compared with 47 percent of the rest of us.

Is there a disconnect between our pastor’s “calling” and our affirming that calling? It’s kind of like telling someone who has no food or clothing, “Have a great day,” and then doing nothing about it (James 2:15, 16).

I recently asked a church board member if he would take on the same level of responsibility and salary as his pastor, and his reply was, “No way!”

Of course, we need to recognize a number of factors when considering pastoral salaries, including congregational size—most congregations have fewer than 200 people—and the economic status of the region. But let’s not forget that not everyone gives to their church either. Just ask your treasurer.

But are we regularly and intentionally tending to the holistic health of our pastors?

  • Spiritual: Do we pray for our pastors? Do we extend love and respect to them, remembering they are held to a higher account? (I Thessalonians 5: 12, 13; James 3:1)
  • Financial: Do we pay our pastors generously, recognizing that we also appreciate and expect the same for our honest and hard day’s work? Remember, we’re only paying them with what God has paid us. (I Timothy 5:17, 18; I Corinthians 9:14; I Chronicles 29:14)
  • Emotional: Do we regularly extend affirmation and appreciation to our pastors? (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Physical/mental: Do we encourage spontaneous time off work for our pastors to spend with God, their spouse, family members and others?

And when we encourage our pastors, do we do it with a grateful heart, not expecting anything in return?  

If you’re like me, it has been very easy to take my pastor for granted. So please join me in showing our pastors how much we appreciate them.

Kevin Davidson is a stewardship consultant at the Calgary, Alta., office of Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC). For stewardship education and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit MennoFoundation.ca.

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