Thursday, May 8, 2008

Honoring Our Church Leaders and Pastors

I wanted to pass on this article to you, sent to me via email from Smoldering Wick Ministries (a ministry for the burned out pastor and ministry leader). It touched me so much as a previous ministry leader, and one who has seen the deep discouragement of a pastor first-hand.........

The Plague: Restoring Honor
via Clayton King by admin on 4/21/08

I am sure that a post of this sort offers itself to misunderstanding. I write it nonetheless, in hopes that you will hear my heart and glean the good from it.The church in America seems to have lost the ancient, and dare I even say Biblical understanding of correctly honoring the man of God; one who dedicates his life to service to God and God’s people (this could be the worship leader, youth minister, or most often the pastor). We have confused honor with obsession, treat our ministers like hired hands, and become addicted to personalities on TV or the internet and swallow anything they try to sell us while starving our local pastor on a salary that allows him to qualify for food stamps.There is a distrust and skepticism afoot that is a result of the hideous scandals of the 1980’s. And I do believe that the Swaggart and Baker scandals were, in the long run, good for the family of God. That bubble had to burst, and the scripture had to come true that judgement must first begin in the house of God. There have been plenty more, even the Ted Haggard scandal of recent days, that have caused the world to view us with a cynical eye. We should expect this and live our lives accordingly so that the world can see a true Christian witness. But in the wake of these scandals, not to mention Enron and WorldCom, there is a “mood” where it seems that churches treat pastors as expendable, replaceable, for hire and for fire. We almost automatically distrust anyone in leadership now.I am not advocating that the church makes the pastor a little king of a little kingdom with freedom to do or say whatever he wants. That is insanity. I am advocating for a return to honoring the man of God, not worshipping him, but understanding the heavy burden laid upon him, the struggles and pressures he faces on a daily basis that NOBODY else experiences, and the specific needs the pastor faces that are uncommon to all other people in the church.Perhaps this is the reason so many pastors burn out and quit ministry. The statistics are staggering, so much so that the Eli Lilly Foundation is pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into churches, seminaries, and other non-profits to try and figure out why pastors walk away and how they can help stop the mass exit. When questioned as to this reality, pastors who quit most often say that a lack of support from the church and lack of understanding from the members as to the stresses and pressures of the job is the largest contributing factor to pastoral burnout.Can we regain a sense of honoring the man of God without becoming obsessed with personalities or worshipping personas? Of course we can. Pray for your pastor. Slip a $100 bill in his hand after church. Send him and his wife on a cruise. Give them gift certificates to their favorite restaurants. Babysit their kids so they can have a night out to watch a movie and eat a good meal. Stand up for them when you hear gossip. Get their back when they cannot defend themselves against the untrue accusations of others. Encourage the deacons or the elders to take up a special love offering for your pastors family once a year, honoring them with respect and generosity.When I was a young boy, my daddy and I got our hair cut every other Saturday morning at Garrett’s barbershop in Fountain Inn. And everytime that a local pastor would come in the barbershop to get a haircut, all the men waiting would stand up, take off their hats, shake hands with the pastor, and it made a heavy impression on me as a little boy. Since then, I have made it a personal goal to always honor the pastor when I go somewhere to preach, to always honor him from the stage, to tell him publicly how much I appreciate him and his family and their sacrifice for the church, and then to tell him personally and privately how much I look up to him. This simple practice has opened up friendships between me and hundreds of pastors over the years. Sometimes, they just need to know that we believe in them and that we’ve got their back when they need us. Let’s restore honor, correctly, to the man of God in the church.


Tom Becker said...

Jodi, I've always felt pastors should be treated the way this man is suggesting and I've always done that. I'm not able to give them $100 bills but the respect thing has always been there with me toward any pastor. It's just that my experience recently has been more like what he suggested as sanity..letting your pastor be a little king of a kingdom and do whatever he wants. That has been my experience recently and I see many churches going that way. I have basically lost my sensitivity toward pastors and am leary to the point of not trusting.
e recntly, as you know, left a nasty situation where I was worship pastor after being heavily involved, giving our hearts and souls to the ministry and building program, never to even enter the new building where they even told me where my new office would be. Now at our new church the whole building program thing is happening again and we cant give a cent to it. And we won't give a cent to it. We can barely afford gas, and can't afford a second car and we are trying to figure out how to scrape some money together so we can convert our attic into a teen bedroom so my son and 9 year old daughter can have some well deserved privacy, not to mention Sally and me having some privacy too.

Well I guess I went off didn't I.

Sorry one more thing. It just used to bug me when our former pastor would urge people to give up stuf so they could give to the church and the new building. And then we go to his house for pastors fellowship and he's watching the game on a big screen tv.

Jodi said...

I totally get where you're coming from. Just a thought: maybe some rich guy from the church gave him the big screen? For example: there's people at our church who are loaded, who give the staff at our church CARS! Wow-wouldn't THAT be nice? Maybe I should get to know THEM...:)

On another note, I'm still struggling with the whole church thing still. Lately, I think I only go because of my kids. I'm not sure I even want to. I've just lost a lot of positive feelings about the church because of what's happened. I used to go to Willow Creek leadership conventions, and totally bought into the whole "the local church is the hope of the world" thing. Now, not so much... I'm still seeking God, and I won't give up on Him as I know you haven't....

Tom Becker said...

Yea, Jodi, I think you guys should get to know the family or rich guy who gives away cars. If I find out there's one at our church, I'm taking him out for coffee I'll promise you that! Ha!

You make a good point. The big screen tv may have been given to him. I rather doubt it though. It was a well known fact amongst our staff that he loved his toys. You know, guy toys. He even bragged about them. And his wife even told us that the excuse for him having to have his toys was that he never got stuff when he was a kid. Well excuse me but a lot of us didn't get many toys as kids.

Don't get me going on that "the church is the hope of the world" stuff. "Christ is the hope of the world," and he'll just use us to get the message to the world.

By the way, I hope you had a nice Mother's Day.