Most church members depend on their pastors to be biblically knowledgeable and spiritually impassioned to preach, teach and help them keep their own faith strong and dynamic.
But according to a recent George Barna study, more than half of today’s pastors (53%) say “it is at least somewhat difficult to find time in their ministry schedule to invest in their own spiritual development.”
Pastors spend enormous amounts of time shepherding their flocks and often have little personal time to pray, study Scripture, meditate and recharge their spiritual batteries. When a pastor becomes spiritually depleted it can impact not only him and his family, but his entire congregation.
One pastor stated: “I can’t lose that living sense of the presence of Jesus in sermon preparation, witnessing — there’s just too much at stake eternally.”
Most pastors would agree that becoming spiritually dry can be the greatest obstacle to ministry, a problem that impedes a pastor’s ability to lead the church, minister to the congregation and be effective in every area of ministry.
One pastor admitted: “Burning out spiritually is my biggest fear … . People do not understand that pastors have the same struggles as everyone else. While pastors are helping others in difficult times, who’s helping them? … I’m afraid of losing the desire to keep on keeping on spiritually.”
More than one pastor has complained: “I have too much ‘religious work’ and not enough spiritual replenishment.”
What do pastors wish church members knew about their faith?
Today’s pastors admit they:
- Can experience spiritual dryness.
- Have difficulty finding time in their busy schedules to spend time with God in prayer, personal Bible study or meditation.
- Are in the business of giving themselves to others, which can lead to their own spiritual exhaustion, especially if they are not receiving love and care in return.
- Need a strong, vibrant personal faith if they are to be effective ministers, so spiritual burnout is something they fear.
- Worry their own spiritual dryness will impact the faith of their congregation.
- Need to be supported by the prayers of church members if they are to stay spiritually strong.
How can church members support and care for their pastor?
- Ask God for wisdom and strength to spiritually support the pastor.
- Send emails, notes and letters telling him they are praying for him and asking how they can better pray.
- Pray with him.
- Help diffuse conflicts that arise within the congregation.
- When concerns arise related to the church, set up a time to share those concerns with the pastor during the week to avoid distracting him on Sunday.
- Understand their pastor needs scheduled personal solitude to spend time with God, pray, study and meditate on Scripture.
- Encourage and respect his times of solitude, time he sets aside for spiritual growth.
- Encourage the pastor to take spiritual retreats, and, if possible, give him the gift of a spiritual renewal getaway.
- Find out what keeps the pastor spiritually replenished, then encourage him by making it possible for him to do those things.
- Pray without ceasing, supporting the pastor, his family and ministry with constant prayer.
As a shepherding leader of the early churches, the Apostle Paul openly encouraged the Thessalonians to pray for him (1 Thess. 5:25). He knew that when pastors get busy in ministry, they may often let their time with God suffer.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Denise George is author of 31 non-fiction books, including: What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew: Helping People Understand and Appreciate Their Leaders (Zondervan). Through her private Facebook group, Christian Writers for Life, she encourages and teaches others to write to publish. Her other works can be found at her website.