Imagine one to two hundred people who had access to your phone number and could call you anytime they felt they needed or wanted. Imagine one to two hundred people who knew where you lived and could stop by any given time. Imagine one to two hundred people who each have expectations of you, and your job may rest in those expectations being met. Imagine one to two hundred people who judge you weekly and 5-10% of them publicly critical of you. Imagine one to two hundred people who look to you as their pastor who might feel it is your job to be there whenever they feel the need. That is the life your pastor lives everyday.
I hope if you are a christian who attends a church that you will read this post. As a former pastor I feel I can now address this issue. I know the heart of pastors. They consider it a privilege to serve people. They want to be there when congregants are facing a hardship. They want to celebrate those special days in the lives of their congregants. They want to make the hospital visits, attend the graduation parties, wedding celebrations, birthday parties, open house parties, anniversary dinners, backyard cookouts, and all the scheduled events within the church. They want to meet the needs of all those people who call them pastor. They want to preach inspiring messages, or lead a spirit-felt worship every week. They want everyone to like them and want to be loved and appreciated.
There are hundreds of people who have access to your pastor 24/7 due to cell phones and social media. The question is does your pastor have a bat cave for escape? Does your pastor have a secret identity where he can take off the cape and just be Clark Kent?
Here is a question for every christian who attends a church. When does your pastor withdraw? Is it part of your church’s policy that the pastors have days off? Does the church leadership protect your pastor’s days off and family time?
Even, Jesus experienced the pressure of too many people having access to him and the need to get away from it all. We read on more than one occasion in the gospels that Jesus withdrew to a LONELY PLACE, a place where no one could get to him. Jesus had bat caves he could retreat to decompress and rest.
Here are three expectations every christian should have of their pastor and should make as policy in their church:
Take 1.5 - 2.0 days off a week. These are days to step away from ministry. God commands it! Most pastors don’t really take a day off a week. due to expectations and schedules they have to meet.
2. Scheduled time your pastor can turn their phone off throughout the week for family
time. There needs to be times throughout the week your pastor’s family doesn’t have to
worry if their spouse/parent will get a phone call and/or have to leave.
3. Your church should require your pastor to take an additional week every three
months for retreating and spiritual renewal. This doesn’t mean they need to go away
on a retreat, though they might. It means, the church is going to require the pastor to
take 4 weeks a year to have a planned “lighter load” so they can unwind, decompress,
and have time for renewal. During these weeks the pastor should be out of the pulpit
and someone else scheduled to preach or lead worship so the whole week can be a time
If Jesus made time for himself to get away from it all, then your pastor need to do so likewise. As a christian who cares about your pastor and your church you should see to it that your church leadership makes these three expectations policy for the pastors.