Summary: Pastor appreciation is very much in order. God’s word calls us to support clergy. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 we read...

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Exodus 17:8-13

Pastor appreciation is very much in order. God’s word calls us to support clergy. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 we are told: "And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love" (The Message).

The Pastor’s Plight

The pastor of a church is in a precarious position; he can’t please everyone! It has been said:

If he is young, he lacks experience; if his hair is grey, he’s too old for the young people.

If he has several children, he has too many; if he has no children, he’s setting a bad example.

If he preaches from his notes, he has canned sermons and is too dry; if he doesn’t use notes, he has not studied and is not deep.

If he is attentive to the poor people in the church, they claim he is playing to the grandstand; if he pays attention to the wealthy, he is trying to be an aristocrat.

If he suggests changes for improvement of the church, he is a dictator; if he makes no suggestions, he is a figurehead.

If he uses too many illustrations, he neglects the Bible; if he doesn’t use enough illustrations, he isn’t clear.

If he condemns wrong, he is cranky; if he doesn’t preach against sin, he’s a compromiser.

If he fails to please somebody, he’s hurting the church and ought to leave; if he tries to please everyone, he is a fool.

If he preaches about money, he’s a money grabber; if he doesn’t preach spiritual giving, he is failing to develop the people.

If he drives an old car, he shames his congregation; if he drives a new car, he is setting his affection on earthly things.

If he preaches all the time, the people get tired of hearing one man; if he invites guest speakers, he is shirking his responsibility.

If he receives a large salary, he’s mercenary; if he receives only a small salary, well-it proves he isn’t worth much anyway.

According to the Pastor Care Network:

80% of pastors believe ministry has negatively affected their families.

33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their families.

75% report a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.

50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.

70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they started.

40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.

70% do not have somebody they consider a close friend.

50% have considered leaving the ministry in the last three months.

50% of those who go into full time ministry drop out in five years.

94% of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor’s ministry.

And according to the Jan/Feb issue of The Christian Examiner, between 1,400 and 1,600 Christian leaders leave the ministry every month. {2004}

The Alban Institute estimates that 17% of pastors are experiencing burnout. A study of one major denomination concluded that less than one-third of its pastors were happy in their work. Another 30% were "deeply ambivalent" about ministry. And 40% described themselves as "heading for burnout."

Though the pressures pastors face are great, the resources God provides are too. And one of the greatest resources is God’s people. Every person in the church can encourage his or her pastor’s heart. Let’s look at a powerful example in Moses’ time.

It was a time of war for Israel, just as we Christians have wars today with the enemy of our souls. But in this ancient war, the enemy was easy to spot. Exodus 17 tells us that the Amalekites were on the attack. According to Deuteronomy 25:17-18 Amalek attacked Israel from behind, attacking the weak, the stragglers, and the faint. Joshua was in the thick of the battle, with Moses standing on top of the hill holding up the staff of God in his hands. As long as his hands were raised, Joshua and his men were winning. But have you ever tried to raise your hands over your head for any period of time and just hold them there, let alone have something in them? The strongest of men will eventually have to lower their hands. That’s what happened to Moses; his muscles would fatigue and his arms would droop. In this case, there was an unseen spiritual element as part of this picture. Whenever Moses’ hands lowered from fatigue, Joshua started losing immediately.

So long as the hand was upraised, the Israelites prevailed; not because they saw it, and took it as directing them to continue the fight (Kalisch), but because God gave them strength, and vigor and courage, while Moses interceded.

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