Since arriving in January, I have enjoyed the privilege of getting acquainted with many extraordinary pastoral leaders throughout the Presbytery. As I have preached at different congregations, words of affirmation, praise and enthusiasm characterize conversations with church members regarding their pastors. MUP is blessed to have such highly valued and gifted pastoral leaders!
The month of October is “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Why do we have such an observance? One reason is that our pastoral leaders labor so tirelessly to serve God and God’s people. They have accepted a vocation that places many demands on them and their families. They deserve to be honored and recognized for their dedication.
Ministry is a very fulfilling, yet challenging vocation and over time, it can take a heavy toll. While 90% of pastors report being satisfied with their calling to ministry, and 74% are “very satisfied” in their current position, below are some statistics that we should care about as the Church:
- Clergy have twice the rate of depression versus a comparative sample in the general population (NY Times, 2010)
- 25% of clergy experience functional impairment due to depressive symptoms (UMC, 2014)
- They have the highest death rate from heart disease of all professional groups (Carroll, 2002)
- 79% of clergy are overweight or obese compared to 61% of the population (UMC, 2014)
- 40% report moderate to severe financial stress (UMC, 2014)
- 73% of clergy spouses have fair to poor health (Carroll, 2002)
Not only in the month of October, but throughout the year, I encourage our congregations to care for and support their pastoral leaders. I also want to urge pastors and those serving in other validated ministries to practice self-care on a regular basis. Take at least one day off every week, spend time with your loved ones, have friends outside of your ministry context, find a support group, meet with a spiritual director, use your vacation time — YOU are a gift from God, and we appreciate and value your ministry in MUP!
Your partner in Ministry,
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