October has a lot going for it.
In fact, October is National Dental Hygiene Month (go get those teeth cleaned!). It’s Bat Appreciation Month (I like to appreciate bats from afar). It’s Church Library Month (a good reason to make sure your church library carries LYWB!). It is also National Apple Month and National Caramel Month (what a great combination). But none of those things have me quite as excited as the fact that October is Clergy Appreciation Month. Clergy is just a fancy word for pastor. As far as I’m concerned you can skip the apples and caramel, and I don’t really care if you like bats or not. But I don’t want you to miss the opportunity to show your pastor some love.
Pastors are God’s idea. We can find lots of solid arguments for hiring people to lead our churches straight in God’s Word. Verses like 1 Timothy 5:17–18, 1 Corinthians 9:13–14, and Romans 10:14–15 show us that paying leaders to preach the Word is important, biblical, and practical.
In fact, in 1 Timothy 4:13 Paul provides Timothy with a pastoral job description that still applies to the leaders of our churches today:
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
According to God’s Word, what is a pastor’s primary job? To teach God’s Word to other believers. It is impossible for the Church to exist without God’s Word, and pastors feed it to us in regular doses week after week. It’s a pretty big job with huge stakes. Maybe you’ve never considered the task God has assigned to your pastor. You may also not realize how difficult it is to lead a church.
Here are some alarming statistics about pastors:
- 90 percent of pastors state that they are frequently fatigued and worn out on a daily basis.
- 71 percent of pastors state they are burned out and they battle depression beyond fatigue.
- 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
- 80 percent of seminary and Bible school grads who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
- 70 percent of pastors do not have close personal friends and no one in whom to confide.
These may seem like problems too big for us to tackle, but the stakes are too high for us to all bury our heads in the sand.
Romans 10:14 says, "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"
What’s at stake if our pastors are too burned out, stressed out, and disconnected to stay the course? We lose traction in our efforts to preach Jesus to a lost world, and those of us who know Him miss out on much needed teaching of God’s Word.
You may not be able to do much about the 90 percent of pastors who are fatigued or the 80 percent of seminary students who will leave the ministry and never come back. But you can do something for the one pastor who leads the church where you go to learn more about God.
So I want to issue you a challenge to do something radical for your pastor this month. An email would suffice, a card or note would work too, but in light of the fact that pastors are a huge part of God’s plan for the Church and the grim reality that so many of them are struggling, I want to urge you to do something … bigger!
What can you do to bless the socks off your pastor this month? Talk to your parents and other people from your church, and come up with a big idea for a pastor encouragement intervention. Then leave us a comment to tell us about it. At the end of this month, I will give away copies of Don’t Waste Your Life—a book by one of my favorite pastors, John Piper—to the ten of you that I think appreciate your pastors in the biggest and best ways.
I officially declare October "show our pastors some crazy love because the Church can’t tick without them month." Go ahead—mark that on your calendar, and give your pastors a reason to mark it on theirs.