A bit of background…
My maternal grandparents were Pentecostal Holiness preachers – both of them. Long before the days of the prosperity movement, pastors in the Pentecostal (and many other) denominations scratched a living out of any job they could find, while holding Sunday school, Sunday morning service, choir practice, Sunday night service, Wednesday night service, Thursday night visitation, and visits to their congregation all the remaining nights of the week. They lived next door to the church, or sometimes in it. The lack of time and money for outside entertainment wasn’t a big deal then, because there was no expectation to be culturally current, and most forms of entertainment were forbidden anyway. My grandfather was a carpenter (among other things) and provided fairly well for his family of seven, Times were tough for pretty much everyone, so there was no reason to consider themselves particularly deprived. They were weary, but happy.
My father became a pastor in the no man’s land between this type of respect and the excess of the professional preacher of my generation. The attitude during his time of ministry seemed to be, “Keep your pastor hungry and humble.” There was still the need to work a second job, but the expectations of his growing family were significantly greater. Movies, sports, music lessons, and vacations were not only acceptable, they were expected. He labored to satisfy the demands of his family and congregation – to provide a better life than the hardscrabble poverty of his own upbringing. These dual demands left him weary and angry. He took vacations, but never fully enjoyed them. Still, he was in the same situation as just about every other pastor he knew. Eventually the warring expectations became too great and he left the ministry, discouraged.
My older brother became a pastor after the advent of the TV preacher, but before the stigma of “televangelist” attached. He, too worked a second job to support his young family, but there was a much greater likelihood of that being a temporary thing. It was possible to support a family as a full-time pastor if only your congregation was large enough. Still, it was several years before he was able to devote himself fully to the church. Years of church offices and meetings held in his home. He leads a thriving, but not huge congregation these days. I’m sure there are times when he is weary – ministry is a demanding profession in the best of circumstances – but he is happy.
Three stories of ministry in my own family. All three worked hard, had good times and bad, one left pastoring forever.
We know we need to pray for our pastors, give to the work of the church, tell them we enjoyed their sermons. But what can I do specifically for my pastor? Apples of gold in settings of silver – apparently there’s a great deal to be said for encouragement – the gift of exhortation. That word can be cheer, sympathy or challenge, but it must be the right word at the right time. My goal is to bring that encouragement through this blog, website, Face*Book, T*witter, and through our home – Barnabas House. To support the calling of pastors in word and action, intentionally. To honor those who give their lives in the service of the Father.
Let me know what the right word would be for you.