I thought of that this morning as I read this piece from pastor and blogger David Foster (HT: Mark). Pastor Foster does a great job of exposing what he calls the "dirtiest little secret" of the American church:
"that we regularly, relentlessly, and without mercy beat-up, chew-up and spit-out our leaders."
Rev. Foster correctly diagnoses (and describes, more than I've reproduced here) five ways that many churches abuse their pastors:
- We starve them.
- We have outrageously unreasonable expectations of our leaders.
- We strip them of power.
- We let pretend leaders bully them.
- We leave them in financial peril.
Quite pastorally, Pastor Foster also offers five well-articulated antidotes to his diagnosis in the same post:
- Let's pay them a livable wage.
- Encourage them.
- Give them time off for vacation, for training, for restoration.
- Stop the complaints you hear about them at their source.
- Give them a safety net.
Even those congregations that don't regularly fall into the traps of the first five would do well to regularly re-evaluate their diligent attention to these five solutions. And congregations that are in transition would do very well to take a hard look at both lists; what an opportunity, in this season of change that is already upon you, to make healthy changes for the better!
I would encourage every church member, and especially every church leader, to read David Foster's blog post.