This is the finale of my series on the crisis that exists in the American clergy. Pastors are getting out of the ministry at an alarming rate – almost 1,700 per month. 90% of pastors experience an emotional breakdown sometime during their career.
A couple of members have asked me if this series is a personal cry for help. I appreciate the concern, but no. If I were at that point (and I’ve been there in the past and know the warning signs), Sally or I would let the leadership of the church know what was going on.
If anything, this series is a cry for help for my colleagues in ministry. I personally know several pastors around the country who are struggling, and their leadership teams aren’t necessarily as caring or responsive as the leadership team at First Baptist.
It is also a cry for help for the pastors who will follow me at First Baptist. The relationship between pastor and church isn’t static. What was once a nurturing church can become hard-edged.
This happened to the man who was my senior pastor for almost 20 years. After 30 years at the same church (and seeing it grow 800% over that time), a new group of leaders began to treat him like an employee.
Finally, this series is a cry for help for those young men (mostly) who will one day enter the ministry, or at least consider it. Kids aren’t stupid. If their pastor is constantly being criticized by the adults in the church, these kids will tend not to be interested in the ministry when they’re older.
The Bible has 3 primary admonitions for churches with respect to its pastor. They include:
#1 – to provide for his material needs
If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? [T]hose who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. (I Cor 9:11-12, 14)
#2 – to treat him with respect
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. (I Thess 5:12-13)
#3 – to submit to his authority
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Heb 13:17)