(DISCLAIMER – this does not reflect my situation at my congregation of the Granny White Pike Church of Christ. This is a response to some discouraging news I got this past weekend from a friend in ministry, who was let go from his job during this holiday season, in the middle of the school year, and doesn’t know what he’s going to do. I felt called to write this today for those ministers going through a rough season in their lives, and for members in their church on how they can encourage.)
All of us go through it at times. Some, more than others. I suppose when I was growing up, I always looked at our preacher (often times it was my dad) and thought he always had it together. I never suspected anything was ever a problem. I thought the Church was a safe haven. I thought, to be real honest, that preachers were perfect. It never crossed my mind they would get upset, get discouraged, or struggle at all, because it was there job to build others up.
I now know that is far from true. Being a minister now, I can vouch that it is extremely easy to get discouraged. My personal theme for the year is “Encourage One Another in 2014”
I’m part of a few mentor groups with other ministers. Sure, I have my own struggles, but they are mostly of my own accord and worry. I love my church family, and I feel loved and encouraged and supported. However, the stories I hear from other guys in this line of work break my heart.
One guy was telling us about when he and his family were preaching in a small rural church. The congregation provided a parsonage. The minister and his family went away on vacation for a week, and when they returned to their home, all of their stuff had been boxed up and placed out on the porch and in the yard – with a note “The elders have decided that it is time to get a new minister. Please see Beth (the church secretary) to get your final paycheck. Good luck in all you do.”
That was it – no “let’s have a meeting about your job” or face to face conversation stating why – just a gutless firing while the family was away. You may think that’s not the norm, and for the most part you’d be right – however, there are things like this going on all around the nation in churches today.
This past weekend – a friend of mine was called into a meeting by the elders. With no warning, with no prior meetings about his performance, with no “let’s talk about how you can do better” conversation, he was told to leave. He’ll have to either weather the storm through the rest of the school year for his kids, or make the decision to move his kids in the middle of the second semester.
Ministers of all types have accepted their job knowing that with it comes certain struggles. Some guys are one upset person away from losing their job. Some guys are continually belittled. Some guys, even though they give it their all, are never told an encouraging word. And the result – fewer and fewer people are wanting to go into the field of ministry. In fact, it seems like every week or so I see a friend of mine I know on social media who is getting out of the field.
I have many people here at the Granny White Pike Church of Christ who are encouragers. People who come up to me after a lesson, and don’t just say “Great job” – but rather they talk about the lesson with me. They share how “the point you made about” really touched them, or was something they really needed to hear. I love these conversations. They motivate me to continue. I love getting emails and Facebook messages about how my lesson helped people. It motivates me to better.
I have a group of elders here who show all of our ministers great support. They provide for us, pray for us, share with us, take us to lunch, are there for us to share frustrations, are wise beyond others I know, and offer words of wisdom. However, I know that not all ministers have the same luxury.
So this morning – let me share with you some of the things my members/leaders do to help encourage me that you can do for your own ministers:
Encourage your ministers – all of them.
– Support their projects.
– Pray for them.
– Attend their classes.
– Listen to their lessons.
– Write notes to them, thanking them for specific lessons.
– Pray for them.
– Take them to lunch.
– Volunteer to watch his children so he and his wife can go on a date night.
– Share what they talked about in church on social media.
– Pray for them.
In what ways do you encourage your ministers at your congregation? What are some other ways we can let ministers know how much we appreciate their work?
At this time – I want to send a special shout to my great congregation, the Granny White Pike Church of Christ, for always doing such a great job of encouraging. My prayer for other ministers is that their congregations will do the same.
Image from kalexanderson via flickr