Everyone’s going to be mad at me for writing this.
One of the things I’ve really thought about a lot is the unScriptural way that Pastors are expected to do their jobs.
An oft-repeated statistic is this – that the average church expects their pastor to spend 3 hours of Bible study a day, counseling 4 hours, visitation 90 minutes a day, two hours of witnessing, have an hour meeting with deacons or associate pastor a day, 3 hours working on sermons a day, three hours of prayer a day, and still get 8 hours of sleep
Obviously, that’s more hours than are in the day. And still, people in the congregation say nasty things like, “They only work one day a week!!!”
When you poll Independent Baptist churches, you find that they have the same ideals for a pastor – but expect them to work an 8 hour a day job at the same time to compensate for the fact that most IFB churches pay their pastors less than the 7-11 clerk who they buy their morning coffee from.
The early Baptists faced the same problem.
1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. Acts 6:1-7 (KJV)
Seriously, the congregation of thousands expected the Apostles to hand out meal trays. THe Apostles demurred, claiming that their best use of time was in the word of God, and prayer.
The Bible agrees.
13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. 14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? 15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God: 16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. 17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: 20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. Exodus 18:13-23 (KJV)
If you actually read all that, you’ll see that it’s not right for the Pastor to spend hours upon hours upon hours going to constant luncheons, business meetings, street evangelism, every small group gathering, every prayer meeting, every Bible meeting. I watched my old pastor do it. He usually made it home by 8:30 every night. A couple hours with his family, a few hours in bed, hurried prayers, then to the church office to resume the same schedule. He made it 21 years with that kind of schedule.
17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Exodus 18:17 (KJV)
You want to know why sometimes the biggest scoundrels in the church are the Preacher’s kids??? That’s why. The Pastor’s not at home to raise them.
The first year of a church plant… the pastor should be looking for someone faithful to train up. I guarantee its one of the people to join the first year, if you’re remembering to pray for them.
I also guarantee the wolf in sheep’s clothing you have to be wary of is also one of the people who joins in the first year. So, you have to be careful.
Otherwise, you’re going to be one of the 20% of pastors who quit the ministry every year, never to look back – and 0.5% of congregations in the US every year learn the hard way they pushed the pastor too hard when they find his lifeless body in his home. And sometimes at his own hand.
I know a Methodist minister who retired to work with me, and he made disparaging comments about hating his congregation. Well, it’s your fault for not setting some biblical principles…
- Train up someone to assist (2 Tim.- 2:2, Titus 1:5).failure to do this is the leading reason for Ministrial burnout, according to Exodus 18:22-23. If thou shalt do this thing… thou shalt be able to endure.
- learn to entrust other with jobs – delegate! Make it CLEAR to your congregation, you’ll be doing the street evangelism with them the first year, to teach them how to do it. AFter that… they better be ready to run on their own. (Exodus 18:22, Acts 11:30, 15:25)
- After the first year of the church plant… the pastor now must dedicate himself to the word of God, and to prayer.
Sitting there in your church, wishing there was something you could do? Guess what – God was calling you to go out and do. Many pastors do thrive on the go out and do everything schedule – but after a year or so, it begins to crush them. And by the third year, more than one are looking at a bottle of aspirin or contemplating sitting in their garage with the car running, or holding their pistol with shaking hands.
I’m not kidding, the statistics show that half a percent of pastors kill themselves every year.
We’ve got to change the way we pastor. And the churches need to be taught on this issue. Because you do not want to be that half a percent of churches that show up on Sunday, and find a very solemn church, with the deacon or associate pastor climbing the pulpit to tell everyone the horrible news. I guarantee at least one of the readers of this blog knows of a church or attended one where this has happened.
We’ve got to stop and change.