The following is a guest blog by Michael Robison, Lead Pastor of Grace Church – Kingsport, TN
Did you know that only 1 out of 10 men who pastor will retire from that position? Something that is so often overlooked is the toll ministry will take on a person and their family. Before I was a lead pastor I had a very wise man, another great pastor friend, explain that you have no idea what this job requires until you’re doing it. WOW, he couldn’t have been more correct. I have been serving in ministry for nearly 10 years now. But, until I became the pastor, I had no idea what ministry really looked like. There were so many things I was sheltered from, protected from and exempt from as a youth pastor. I look back now with greater respect and gratitude for the pastors I served with in my previous ministries. As the pastor we take the blows, mentor our staff and raise them like a family, shepherd 100’s or 1,000’s of people and sacrifice our time and many desires along the way. Sometimes it can feel quite lonely. No matter how much someone loves you and supports you, if they haven’t served in that position, they don’t know what you walk through daily!
The reality is that ministry, especially the spot of lead pastor, can truly cost more than we can ever imagine. The toll comes in our physical health, our mental health, our spiritual health and our family life. Being the pastor requires 100% of our lives. The reality is that many of us truly do LOVE this calling and opportunity to serve. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I wake up each day with a renewed sense of opportunity and privilege that God has given to me. But, as time goes by I realize even more how much God has called me to do.
Pastors, it is imperative that we take care of ourselves. You and I need a regular routine of exercise to relieve stress and stay fit. We need a regular time of learning and increase in our mental faculties. We need a regular routine of letting down our guards and having fun without worrying about being “on call”. We need regular time with our families; things such a Date Night and special times with our kids. More than anything, we need a dedicated time to pray and study the Word. We can’t simply be in the Bible only for sermon prep. Without these things, we will go crazy!
However, I believe one of the most important things we need as pastors is the ability to rely on each other and care for each other. No one beside a person who has been where we are will understand the level of stress, responsibility and burden that is placed on our lives. We need to constantly be encouraging each other, praying for each other and helping each other stand accountable to our calling.
My challenge to each of you is that you make it a regular habit of loving and encouraging other pastors and leaders. You have no idea how much good it will do and how God can use your simple words and gestures. We need to build each other up and hold each other accountable. “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13 ESV
Without these things in our lives, we will most definitely find our selves as one the statistics……HMMMMMM, only 10% of those who pastor retire from that position? Why? Burnout, Stress, Mental & Physical Deterioration and Moral Failures. Don’t let yourself become one of those statistics! Let’s work together to make it 10 out of 10!