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NPPN• How to Know When a Pastor is Tired and Needs Prayer ` Article #076

How to Know When a Pastor is Tired and Needs Prayer

As I was reading through a stack of pastoral resumes at a church where I was Interim Pastor, I was reminded that Pastors do get tired, but often they are working so hard, they fail to realize it.

So perhaps it is time to share a list of some collected ways to know how a pastor is tired. (Not sure where I got all of these. Some might even be original with me.) Pastor-types will recognize a few of these and might even add a few more. Non-pastors need to realize some of these, to help them better relate to their pastor.

Pastors are tired when:

  1. The threat of being fired sounds good;
  2. When standing in a hospital room, envy for the patient sets in;
  3. The goal for today is to get through it without serious damage;
  4. While still basking in the glow of surviving last Sunday, it occurs that another Sunday is on its way and today is Wednesday;
  5. People ask if a pastor has been sick and the reply is, “Not yet;”
  6. A senior who adores the pastor runs by the office to bring a cherry pie and she is avoided;
  7. The personnel committee offers a six-week sabbatical and it is turned down because a decision is too difficult to make on what to do with all that free time;
  8. The words to ‘”Jesus Loves Me” don’t come so quickly anymore;
  9. An extra effort is made to go to that denominational meeting because it will be so boring, some rest will be available;
  10. The nighttime prayer has become, “Lord, I’m tired. Amen.”

Note that pastors will not admit to most of these. Love them anyway, and by all means, pray for them, and remind them of Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

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Lord Jesus,

You are the Chief Shepherd. You know how it feels to shepherd the flock.

We pray for all Your shepherds. They are not only Your shepherds, they are also Your sheep and in need of Your tender and comforting and healing care too, like the rest of us.

Please bring them to a place of rest every time they need it. Lead them beside quiet waters and restore their souls.

Please refresh and encourage them and their families every time they need it.

Protect them from all evil. Protect them from wrong and difficult people who drain them without anything good coming out of it. Hide and protect them from the careless and hurtful words of people who have no understanding. 

Keep them close to Your heart, especially when they struggle with burnout.

Grant them relief from days and nights of trouble.

Strengthen them in body, soul and spirit.

Give them Your peace that passes all understanding.

Let them see lasting fruit while they labor in Your service.

Let Your joy be their refuge.

Give them wisdom and discernment and guide them on their journey. 

Let Your Presence be with them wherever they go and in everything they do.

Thank You that You are praying for them - no one can pray like You! Let this comfort them and bring them relief and joy every day.

Please God! Thank You God!

In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sharing this post and comment, hoping many pastors and prayer champions will read and then plead...

FROM ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE . . .

The most overlooked person in the church is the spouse of the lead pastor.

Let me tell you why and the reason this is so dangerous for the health of a local church.

When I was growing up, I went to church three times a week. My Dad was the pastor. On Sunday nights, we would come back home after church where my brothers, sister, and I would watch the Wonderful World of Disney. My parents would make some coffee and talk in the kitchen. I can’t quite remember how old I was, maybe 8 or 9. We lived in a small house so it wasn’t hard to hear their conversation.

Here’s how it sounded:

“Deacon so-and-so is upset because of this…” my Dad would say. "This person is mad about that…. Deacon so-and-so didn’t like this….”

On and on and on.

Over time, a question formed in my mind. “Why do these people hate my Dad?”

Eventually, I promised myself I would never, ever, never work at a church. (I eventually broke that promise but that’s another story for another time.)

During these conversations, my Mom would encourage my Dad. She would also share her unfiltered thoughts about “Deacon so-and-so.” That’s my wonderful, hilarious Mom.

Little did the deacons know, but my Mom was carrying a weight and responsibility as she cared for, encouraged, and supported the lead pastor, her husband. These kinds of conversations happen ALL THE TIME in local churches and it’s stunning to me how little this is acknowledged by elder boards, deacons, and senior leadership.

At a farewell event the Gwinnett Church staff hosted for Wendy and me before our departure, I shared that I had one regret. I regretted that most people had no idea how much Wendy had led Gwinnett Church.

The countless conversations we had when I was hurt, frustrated, anxious, and concerned kept me going. The times I wanted to quit, she said, “Not yet.” The times I wasn’t sure I was able to do the job, she said, “You got this. The Lord is with you, and so am I.” The moments I needed great advice, she provided it. And the times I needed to be called out or corrected on something, she was a voice of truth.

What isn’t recognized though is the toll this can take on the spouse of the lead pastor. They carry a responsibility and a weight that doesn’t show up on an organizational chart. But though it may be hidden, it’s there. And if you aren’t careful, this can begin to take a toll on the marriage.

It’s why — just a hunch on my part — many pastors and spouses are looking at leading a church nowadays and asking, “Is this really worth it?”

Knowing this, I believe it is negligent if leadership doesn’t encourage, shepherd, and care for the lead pastor’s spouse. Now, let me be clear. I’m not suggesting some weird entitlement program.

The pastor and the pastor’s spouse shouldn’t be treated as if they are royalty. That’s not what I am suggesting.

At the same time, when there is no acknowledgment of the role the spouse plays, the leadership of the church does itself and the couple a huge disservice.

Specifically, I think leadership should provide the following, immediately:

 

  • Paid, proactive counseling for the couple.
  • Say thank you. (And don’t wait for the Christmas banquet.) The board or senior leadership should consistently express appreciation to the pastor’s spouse.
  • Pay for quarterly off-sites for the couple.
  • Bring the spouse into a leadership team or elder meeting and ask, “What feedback do you have for us to improve how we serve you and your spouse?”
  • If you are a multi-site church, make sure the spouse of the campus pastor doesn’t get lost in the maze of the organization. Being a campus pastor’s spouse in a multi-site church can often feel even more invisible, and uncared for. If you don’t believe me, ask them.


That said, I could make the case that the most overlooked person in the church is the unchurched person because every organization tends to drift toward keeping the insiders happy. I get it.

And yet, as I wrote in the FOR book, “The customer is eventually treated like the team is treated.”

If elder boards and leadership truly want to care for the church, the most immediate action they need to take isn’t around digital engagement, finances, or ministry strategies.

It’s recognizing and supporting the most overlooked person in the church.

If you serve in this type of role and disagree with me, then let me close with a question: “When’s the last time you brought the spouse into a board meeting and thanked them?”


FOR You,

Jeff Henderson

The Catalyst Leadership Podcast brings together change-makers from across the globe to provide practical leadership and cultural insights through in-depth interviews with leaders, speakers, and authors.

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