Last month I recounted highlights from my conversation with Bob Burns, a St. Louis pastor, longtime friend and co-author of the new book – “Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving.” I found the book to be an affirmation of what we have done for the last fourteen years at PastorServe.
A number of insights in the book highlight the need for a ministry such as PastorServe. For example, Burns addresses the isolation of pastoral ministry when he states, “In the face of loneliness and even recognized need for collaboration and partnership support, so many pastors felt the need to just soldier on as kind of a lone wolf in ministry”. To be sure, we at PastorServe regularly deal with pastors who are walking through life alone – fearful to share their heart with anyone.
In fact, I have just come from a morning meeting in which I met with a local pastor who shared with me that his church was not a safe place to unload his burdens. He shared about counseling an elder in his church who had experienced numerous marital challenges. Yet, when this pastor experienced some challenges in his life, the elder threatened to fire the pastor because, in his words, “no pastor should be struggling with these types of issues.” What this has done is created an unhealthy dual relationship. Sadly, the pastor now views his local church as an unsafe place to share his life.
As I explained last month, the book explores five interlocking themes that can lead to long-term pastoral excellence. Another of these five themes is the importance of a healthy marriage and family. This theme highlights the critical need for a pastor to cultivate his family’s spiritual and emotional health. “Burns concluded that a pastor couldn’t sustain pastoral excellence if they did not care for their spouse and family.”
Burns was surprised to see just how crucial a role the pastor’s spouse plays in sustaining pastoral excellence. We have witnessed this again and again at PastorServe, as the pastor’s spouse is frequently the only safe place a pastor can dump his emotional baggage – placing the spouse in an uncomfortable and often unfair position of knowing too much.
In a recent interview with in-Faith Magazine, Tasha Chapman one of the co-authors of the book stated, “Most people have no idea how hard their pastors work. We are terrible about giving our pastors vacation time, making them take sabbaticals, making them take care of their families, and making them limit their work hours.”
The book’s findings were recently shared with a group of church leaders who responded by stating that they never considered who serves as a pastor to the pastor. Yet – this is our daily heartbeat at PastorServe.
You have been an important part of our ministry. As PastorServe has focused on helping pastors grow in their marriage and family health, your support has helped to protect pastoral families through our work. This month, we arranged for a church planting family to take a needed vacation in the Colorado Rockies.
Thank you for caring for pastors, their spouses and families. Your faithful prayer support and generous financial support continue to be a great encouragement to us and to those we assist daily.