I didn’t mean to hear it. I sat down in an empty “comfy” spot at the coffee shop, and only a purse occupied any of the seats around me. It looked like a safe enough location for my ten-minute reprieve between morning meetings. And then they returned. A woman (thus the purse) and a man who were already involved in a discussion.

I was not trying to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t avoid hearing what they were saying. At first I thought they were talking about the man’s child, who must have needed some counseling or intervention of some kind.

And then I realized that they were talking about the pastor the man’s church had just hired.

Whoa — wait a minute! I shouldn’t be hearing any of this! But I did. I was finishing my sandwich as quickly as possible, but I was basically stuck with my plate on my lap and my coffee waiting beside me.

I am so relieved that I have no idea what church the man attends, and for which he evidently serves on the hiring committee.

The pastor-in-obvious-question is a fine-enough preacher, but he can’t do announcements worth anything — he gets too nervous. He’s not a great planner either. And his wife, don’t even get me started. She’s not going to get paid, but she had better plan on attending a lot of events and church functions.

Goodness gracious, this is so painful.

In case you don’t know me, I’m both a pastor’s wife and a pastor. I often hear about these types of discussions happening, but I’ve never actually HEARD one myself. I felt so sorry for that ministry couple, being judged, condemned, and found lacking in the court of approval at the coffee shop and wherever else the stories may be shared. (I have the suspicion that they are being openly shared elsewhere, seeing how easily I became a victim of the discussion.)

Can I throw in my two cents on this topic, even if they haven’t been requested?

If you go to church — any church — you need to pray for your pastor, priest, or spiritual leader. And if that person is married and/or has a family — you guessed it — pray harder! Ministry is a profession unlike many others, and prayer support and encouragement are necessary factors in its success.

According to statistics from a ministry website:

  • 97% of pastors have been betrayed, falsely accused, or hurt by their trusted friends
  • 70% of pastors battle depression
  • 7,000 churches close each year
  • 1,500 pastor quit each month
  • 10% will retire a pastor
  • 80% of pastors feel discouraged
  • 94% of pastor’s families feel the pressure of the ministry
  • 78% of pastors have no close friends
  • 90% of pastors report working 55-75 hours per week

I understand that not everyone in a profession may be meant to have that job. I also know that not every pastor and family are above-board and doing things the way that they should. But the last time I checked, every single one of them is still human and capable of error, even if they are trying desperately hard to succeed. Every one of them still has their own faults and sins that they are working through, just like the people they feel called to lead.

So I guess my point here today is this…

Have you been an encouragement to your pastor and his/her family lately? Could it have been you that I overheard in the coffee shop that day, gossiping and dishonoring the names and positions of those they are supposed to support?

Again, in the most humble way I know how to ask, I would ask you to pray for your pastors and each member of their families. Please pray that God will bless them and use them for his glory, and that they will have courage to fight the battles in their midst and run to God so they can win them together. Pray that they will have enough energy serving their congregations and all of the extra things that often entails, while still having enough to share generously with their families. Pray blessing for their marriages. Pray for their children, who are often under the microscope every single day of their lives. Pray that they will take care of themselves and not feel guilty. Pray that they will not get weary in doing what is right, and that they will always remember that being — practicing what they preach — is more important than doing. And please pray that God will fill in the empty spaces, where only he can see. Being on the spiritual front lines is a dangerous place to be. Pastors and their families need people to continually have their backs in prayer covering and encouragement.

Thank you. For every prayer you pray on behalf of your pastors and every encouragement you share with them, I say thank you. May eternity tell the story of what those acts will accomplish.