Oct 112019

A little thank you can save a clergy person’s life

thank you

October is clergy appreciation month and this Sunday is Clergy Appreciation Day. It is one of those celebrations that very few people actually know about and even fewer actually celebrate. I don’t expect people to say thank you to me for the work I do, but it does my soul a lot of good when they do. Especially when I am struggling with my depression and PTSD.

I wrote almost a month ago about the statistics concerning clergy. It is rather eye opening to see the number of clergy persons who struggle with mental health issues, financial struggles and educational inadequacies. I struggle with all three of those and sometimes all at the same time.

I try to keep my posting on social media and my blog postings here light and upbeat, but even that can be a struggle at times. Sometimes though, I need to just talk about the dark times and let out the sadness that I feel.

In many cases, I turn to fellow clergy for this support. And I have so many great people who love and support me. If it were not for them, I would not be here today. You see, I am one of those sad statistics concerning clergy. In the past, I have twice tried to commit suicide. Thankfully, I failed both times. (Or this blog post would be a Halloween spooky story of posting from the great beyond!)

Clergy are there for people on the darkest days of their lives. We stand with you when you have lost loved ones, suffered heartbreak or divorce, or have lost everything and are facing financial or physical ruin. We cry with you, laugh with you, pray with you, counsel you and stand with you when others walk away.

And I love helping others so much. All of us do to some degree or another or we would not be clergy. Sometimes it hurts to hear what people say about us and think about the work we do. I have been told by people that I need to get a “real” job. Others ask me if I am a child molester. Some question whether or not I am educated enough to do the work of the ministry. And some seem to go out of their way to say the most hurtful things possible to wound me.

And yet, I still answer the phone and show up at the hospital when needed. I still provide care and concern for those who have hurt me most. Because that is what I am called to do.

Take time today to thank your pastor for all their hard work. Thank them for being there when you need them most. Show them some small sign of appreciation for their dedication to a calling that we can never shut off.

You might actually help save them from a very dark day by doing so.

Sep 132019

Please thank your pastor today

Thank your pastor

This past week a pastor commented to me how tired they were and how they are rarely if ever told thank you. I understand that feeling of tiredness and being unappreciated. I also understand how hard it is sometimes to feel so alone in a ministry field. Please take a moment to read this entire blog post. Your pastor’s life may depend on it.

I and my fellow pastors need you to understand a few things about how ministry works. Take a look at these numbers:

  • 72% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
  • 84% of pastors feel they are on call 24/7.
  • 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
  • 78% of pastors report having their vacation and personal time interrupted with ministry duties or expectations.
  • 35% of pastors report the demands of the church denies them from spending time with their family.
  • 66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves.
  • 57% of pastors believe they do not receive a livable wage.
  • 57% of pastors are unable to pay their bills.
  • 75% of pastors report significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
  • 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses have felt unqualified and discouraged as role of pastors at least one or more times in their ministry.
  • 52% of pastors feel overworked and cannot meet their church’s unrealistic expectations. 
  • 54% of pastors find the role of a pastor overwhelming.
  • 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once in the last year.
  • 35% of pastors battle depression or fear of inadequacy.
  • 26% of pastors report being over fatigued.
  • 28% of pastors report they are spiritually undernurished.
  • Over 50% of pastors state the biggest challenge is to recruit volunteers and encourage their members to change (living closer to God’s Word).
  • 70% of pastors report they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
  • 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider to be a close friend.
  • 57% of pastors feel fulfilled but yet discouraged, stressed, and fatigued. 
  • 1 out of every 10 pastors will actually retire as a pastor. 

I know that is a lot of statistics, but I feel you need to hear what we go thru. On top of all those, the one thing I hear most from my fellow pastors is that they rarely are told thank you. It may seem like a really small thing, but trust me, it is huge to a pastor.

Right around the corner is Clergy Appreciation Month. We take the entire month of October as an opportunity to thank those clergy people who serve us in ways we do not fully understand every day. And yet, so many people fail to take time to thank their pastor.

Why not start now? Why not take a moment to thank your pastor?

If you would like to show your appreciation in other ways, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Say thank you to your pastor on a regular basis. This is the most simple way to show your gratitude.
  2. Give your pastor a gift. It can be something as small as a handwritten note telling them how thankful you are for them and how they impacted you in positive ways. Or it can be something as elaborate as a gift card to a nice Resturant or their favorite coffee spot.
  3. Donate to the church in their honor. Most pastors spend hours on top of hours worried about their church’s finances. You can help to alleviate that worry by donating and say thank you by doing it in their honor.
  4. Volunteer at church. Most pastor’s end up doing a lot of work at church because there are not enough hands to help. You can help lighten their load by volunteering to help in the parish. You can do something as simple as cleaning the bathrooms or refilling the paper towels. That is one less job your pastor has to do.

These are just a few simple ways you can show your gratitude. This will help to lift your pastor’s spirit and keep them from possibly burning out.

Please join me in celebrating Clergy Appreciation Month just a little early!