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Hope and Renewal for Our Pastors

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
October 1, 2021 6:00 am

Hope and Renewal for Our Pastors

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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October 1, 2021 6:00 am

Pastoral couples face unique challenges that many of us don't realize or understand. On this broadcast, a panel of guests, made up of two former pastoral couples, helps identify those challenges, and describes the restorative work they perform. (Previous air date: Oct. 1, 2018)

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Hey this is John Fuller and Focus on the Family is looking for talented writers and editors to help reduce our audio programs and podcasts go to focusonthefamily.com/jobs to learn more about these and other job opportunities. Focus. I don't want to be in ministry. I don't want to fix this that I have to go back to church so your guy what I wanted to be have permission to leave and while I wasn't prepared to engage with people I didn't want to meet new people.

I don't want to put a smile on how the lien. I didn't have any appreciate a space for it was it was done.

This is Focus on the Family and today, you'll hear about the unique challenges and stresses that pastors face and how you can help and encourage those who serve in your local church on John Fuller and your hostess focus president and author Jim Daly Jon, I don't know that we think enough about our pastoral care folks and sometimes that's taking them for granted and today we want to concentrate on how they're serving what the pressures are for them and for their families and what we can do to encourage our pastors.

October is clergy appreciation month, a time when we recognize and celebrate our pastors and their families. Just think about everything a pastor is trying to do counseling and praying over, hurting families, visiting people in the hospital and the shut-ins teaching and preaching of course and I would think feeling graded every Sunday was a good sermon or it was a B- in your signed by the people at the door and you're looking at them say okay and I hit the mark. It's gotta be very difficult at times and I know pastors feel under tremendous pressure, and we want to talk about that today one so you're aware of that than to have a solution that you might be able to help pastors to better yeah and there's that loneliness that occurs in so often families take a toll. When mom and/or dad usually both are serving the church and that we want to strengthen that that family that is certain to church because as they do the families on the other end of that process are to be strengthened as well at John to you. Think about it. 85% of pastors lead churches with less than 200 people in them. They're not. The mega church pastor with lots of resources and lots that help most churches of the pastor and maybe his family are doing a lot of the work and again we want to speak to you as you are led by them and maybe you are the pastor. We certainly want to help you in and point you in a good direction as well. Yes, so we have a panel of guest today in the studio and they're going to describe how to offer hope and godly encouragement to pastors and their spouses through the retreat centers that they direct in their retreat centers across the US and Canada that help church and ministry leaders and were going to post a list of those at our website. Check the episode notes to learn more.

Marshall and Mary Huizinga are with us, and they served as pastors for 35 years in Ontario, Canada, and the code wrecked the carrot Creek retreat center in Alberta and we also have Sam and Pauline Dirksen. They were pastors for 22 years in the now codirected the care of Pines retreat center in Manitoba was a welcomed all of its focus, we described that pretty well. I mean, you have been pastors for many years and you counsel pastors for many years that I miss anything or was that a fairly good description know what I would add to that is you are talking is the fact that pastors are really first responders. When you think of what they do as you talk about counseling and those counseling opportunities come not only in an office he can come in the hospital room. It can come around a coffee table and as people pour their hearts out to the pastor, pastor, here's a lot of things carries a lot of weight and that can that's a tremendous burden at times to carry. What are some of those routine things that we as laypeople may not understand that really do lay a heavy emotional burden on a pastoral couple think is there's this vicarious trauma and a sense sewer walking alongside people that are in the hospital and other places and were affected by the people.

Pastors are affected by caring for others it's not without an effect and I think of new chapter 8 where Jesus is walking the crowd and a lady. The woman touches him and she's healed and he turns around and says in I felt that some power left me what happened.

Who is that it does take something were affected by us, Jesus, and we are human pastors. We will be affected by helping others and in we would hope that we be careful about that is true. I think the cumulative effect to array. There's year after year and decade after decade of traumatic one of the things that really affected Marshall as we had down there and when church for 20 years and well the last three staff members and so we were helping a congregation grieve Wheeler so deeply affected by the loss of our friends and our staff and yet we had to be strong for everyone on tonight. Not strong that we carried personally, I think another dynamic that happens when you're coming alongside families and year in the heat if you well. The heat of the trauma. The heat of the despair in engraving and you come home and your family, your kids didn't know what you had to face today and they want to engage with you and yet you're trying but you can't and so it affects not only the pastor and his wife, her spouse, but your kids sense that something's off but they don't know what happened. So that's an interesting dynamic that other families may not be aware of yet. You know, being a pastor, spouse, and that's really critical to what demand. How did you feel in that role, and often to me there's a sense of having to be perfect, making sure everything is exactly right, making sure the kids behave perfectly. That's an amazing amount of pressure. How do you not take the bait to try to be all that well was a challenge, no question, that is, a preacher's kid's cell. I saw my mom the way to carry the weight of that. So I think I went into ministry with some additional baggage that as I grew anything depends on much church I should train one environment you are and how much they expect wheeling a larger church multi-staff citing carry the weight of that. Sometimes they weren't even sure who raise the lead pastors right now is a help to me that there are certainly times around loneliness. It is the pastors may tell that she's not only is she struggling and done a challenge for me that if you saw that what advice do you have the pastor's wife was listening I went to God and I said Lord I really need a close friend and done for me I had to find it outside my church never was another pastors wife Laura dropped a name in my height and I said to her reaction went for coffee and he said you want to be my friend you want to be my friend. He was a junior high and that she was a gift to me and I gave her to me.

Let me paint a picture for those who are saying you and I don't even know the world. My pastor I maybe shake his hand on the way out the door. Or maybe say hello occasionally, but let me give you some data and have you respond to it. This is research that showed that 50% of pastors have said they would quit if they could 50%. That right there should be a job dropper, 70% have a lower self-esteem now than when they started in the ministry. Something is unhealthy there that shouldn't be the way it goes. What's fueling that kind of discouragement do you think I think there's expectations that a board can have pastor expectations of congregants and then there your own expectations and sometimes what can happen.

What we see and hear is that people can be trying to meet those expectations and their owning somebody else's expectations and you can never satisfy people know we remember one of our mentors said to us, you know that 15% of the congregation is like you on a particular Sunday and that you will like you and the next Sunday will be a different 50% of what you're saying because what you saying something you did or something you didn't do in a service that you did the week before that they liked right. Let me let me interject here.

Have you found that often times it's because you've touched a raw nerve coming there responding because you really open something up. That's a wound that is not true that most the time that's accurate you're stepping on something that maybe they haven't dealt with yet door isn't that part of that struggle right your senior year there pastor or anything you want to shepherd them and you want to guide them in and direct them at the same time they're not treating you in a way that is making you feel like you want to shepherd. That is exactly if there's respectively. Come and talk to her you can see them, your face-to-face and you not speaking through the bush and the thing though that is the best way to go. Let's be honest about what is the issue that you have. Then we can have a conversation about it Because as pastors I think it's really important for us to also understand our humanness talking marriage advice you actually have an incredible story about your situation. The pressure that you two were under and you went to Kurth Creek you actually experience that I think in 2011. Right yeah Sam, what were you doing, what was the situation we did in the pastor for 19 years at that point and were getting tired. I would say the word exhausted would probably be a good word and there was the number of things going on health issues in my family and I were in the middle of a church building project and there was tensions and conflicts Internet leadership team as all the sinks together, not just the ministry but all of those things together. I really miss tired made me tired and I felt pretty exhausted and wasn't sure what to do about it. And so, remember going to a physician and talking to him.

He took 45 minutes with me just talking with this kind of thing, and whether there was some depression involved, and so on and then put too much video sharing my story with someone else send a signal sometimes and just lay on the couch on the floor. Not quite sure what to do to me since Sam, I don't know how to answer your your question on how to solve your problem but just let me next time you feel like that. Give me a phone call will come and lay down beside you and for me it was just in a home to God moment that help me understand that he believed me and know we could work with it but to love point is fully where do I go from here. What do I do polling, how do you sure that up. See your husband in that situation course you're caring that burden well but probably feeling like I've got to be everything here while I definitely felt the pressure to use when you're married and your spouses at a lower point you wanted a more positive, more optimistic and and carry more and eat often that vacillates right someone is down and the others up and but we found herself of the place where both down and have energy either to to encourage Sam because I wasn't feeling that much encouraged either.

In fact, I was getting more and more angry. You know, it's one thing to to deal with the needs that people have in the lives of unbelievers.

But when tension comes within believers not to me for a loop. I didn't expect that with the client. It did and it rocked my faith. I was like Lord you know you've called us here and you call them here and why is there tension. Why can't we. It shouldn't be this way. You cherish probably why you got number of 50% would do something else that they could 50% of pastors 70% feel less equipped now than when they started in the ministry or discouraged Kurth retreat describe that experience for yourselves. Given the low point that you're both then so you went to Gareth in 2011 as pastors is a pastoral couple engaging at what was it like why did it help.

We walked to the front doors and so what are we doing here. I think it was for myself. It wasn't the time factor. It was I don't want to be in ministry. I don't want to fix this that I have to go back to church so your dial. I wanted to be have permission to leave and while I wasn't prepared to engage with people I didn't want to meet new people. I didn't want to put the smile on how that lien. I didn't have any appreciate that your tank was empty. It was it was done having lunch and we got back in the car. We put back the seats, we fell asleep. Parking where we are just tired so the retreat center and when we get there. They told us her you know it there's no pressure.

You can relax, you can rest you have permission to rest right now and we did so.

The first couple of days we did what we needed to, but we slept a lot and we got some good energy back and that's that Kurth we kind of recognize yet we are we are human and need to embrace our humanness and recognize that we have limitations that you know the permission I came from me at the creek was the fact that you know you have permission to be human as you serve have to be some super woman that has you know, as you mentioned the kids all had to be in telling their close had to be such in your smile on your face. I had permission to be real and I have permission to hurt when you have someone in your church that you're not just helping a grieving family but your grieving till end when we left there. It's not like we had all this magical formula now to go home and everything is no miraculously changed discussion this stuff was still there, but we now had tools to to learn how to minister from a healthier place and thankfully you're still in your listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and were hearing about some of the unique challenges that pastors and their families face and if you and your spouse serve in ministry. No please that Focus on the Family is here to help you we have caring Christian counselors. Their discrete there available to pray with you on to advise you the number to call is 800 K in the word family 800-232-6459 and then we also have a wonderful book.

It's written for couples in full-time ministry. It's called the heart of a great pastor. Contact us for your copy or to pass along to a pastoral couple you know. Again, our number 880, family, or check the episode notes to learn more.

Marshall and Mary were knocking the light off the hook. But you also have a powerful story about a couple that you encountered at the retreat center there in Alberta describe the challenges that couples going through scriber similar but why did that story stick out your mind. They were missionary couple and had come back to Canada you hear stories all the time and this one was a case of we couldn't really find anything that went well for them overseas. In fact, she came home and was diagnosed with PTSD and when they came they only came to carrot because their denominational leaders said you are going so they came in very close that first he was very distant.

She was kind of open as we would talk but he is not there was no desire to be there because I didn't think anything could ever be fixed. They were really in a state of hopelessness and they so we went through the week with them and we heard their story and and we are grieving with them and something I would, in the course of the week the Sunday night is beautiful because it's a communion service and at the end of the communion service. We love to pray with each of the couples so Mary and I were going. We put we just knelt down in front of this couple and the Lord dropped this verse in the my heart and I thought all how do I share this verse I thought okay it's not going away.

So I'm just gonna pray this verse over him, so I pray this verse and after the end of it. He says to me I need to talk to. I'm thinking yeah you probably do in your public and let me have it because I he just still was an open so for an hour and 1/2.

He really just opened up even more. But then he said to me you know that we are in a quick we are going back we were leaving here Tuesday we had an appointment Tuesday afternoon to meet with our denominational leader we were leaving the ministry, but he said that verse you prayed over me is the verse, God called me to the ministry and it was a reminder that God is not done with us. We felt done we felt finished, we felt as if we come to the end but your prayer tonight has sparked hope that's amazing.

It's beautiful. It's tragic to mean that that we get so beaten up so run down the SB that desperate moment, but what a great testimony that have the God didn't get them and that God still has a plan for them. Mary tell me in that context again when you ministering to the wives of the spouses that feel so hopeless. Hopelessness is a hard thing to overcome in any walk of life. When you're person that should be full of hope, because your a Christian and your Christian leader, your pastor, you should be full of this hope, and you don't have it.

What you do. I find it's the lack of hope and it's also I'm seeing I went through. Certainly my only thing I'm hearing it on the time pastors wives is a deep sense of disappointment.

He didn't think it would be like that. See prayed that it would be different. He believed it would be different parented different and yet her face somewhere along the line with this profound sense of disappointment when Arthur says that it arrives so quietly this disappointment.

I didn't even know until I spoke out loud and I certainly felt it in my own life and we see that all the time and pastor's eyes it was that during one of our first retreats during this communion service. We were praying for the couples he just knelt down and just laid our hands on, and he began to pray just a simple prayer in the pastor's wife began to weep from his deep placing a guitar that something was happening in the next day she said to I'm so sorry I could not contain this deep cry. Can you tell me what is happening and she said when you mark down any major handsomest began to pay.

I realized that that was the first time in over two decades pastor Ms. Whitehead are common prayed with us and she said first time was when they last time was when they sent us down to ordination. We are deigned to the ministry and she said for two decades. I've been without leaping with this all output input and she said it was still I wonder what my life would've been like in ministry -related been like if we would've had other leaders coming around and praying for us it not this felt need in her hiding.

So we see that all the time happening Mary what you mentioned, the disappointment is that disappointment with God or with his people or with your performances. It's a great question. I think it's a combination of things. For me it was disappointment with God. I really had a crisis of faith. In 2014 and I was deeply disappointed and it was with God guarded it because who does the pastor's wife go to and can so I just said one morning Marsha came and I can never exactly where I was standing and it wasn't that long ago as 2014 and I said to him I want you to know I'm not playing anymore. It's down time I sit in the front row with you will jeopardize your position and paint cuts not answering our prayers.

So I stopped praying and I wore my wyvern was no longer the letter agreement is just our spare bedroom patent stop reading my Bible and God spoke to me directly out of Romans 11 versus 33 to 36 when Lenny and John realized I was going to have to make a decision. Was I going to trust him not knowing what the outcome was.

Was I going to trust that he was a good father. He was working behind the scenes and that it was the tipping point for me and I knew I had to make a decision what and what was Romans 11 give us the verse that we can look at gaps of the riches of his wisdom and knowledge how unsearchable his ways and is passed beyond tracing out who can know the mind of the Lord who has ever been his counselor who has ever given to God that God should repay him for through hand into him and in him all things and at that moment I was confronted with my own need. I felt kind of mean exclamation why he wasn't doing things on why he likes doing things and I knew I was going to have to decide what we think and you do not knowing know what I appreciate so much that vulnerability and that's where we learn that pretending Pauling that we talked about a moment ago. Mary is really heading out there is be honest and I so appreciate that. It does give us an action item for those who are in the pews. You know those of us that are in pastoral leadership how we can ask our pastor. We can pray for them right there in the fact that you have the story that the couple had not been prayed for for two decades should be a wake-up call to the rest of us sitting there helplessly would be true of most pastors is not unique to be able to go up at the end of the service when things are quiet done. It's like we just pray for you, the pressure crying retail is done. Yes, we have an opportunity during October to encourage and celebrate pastors and their families because of clergy appreciation month.

This is your chance to let your pastor know how much you care about them. Maybe with a card or a simple gift. Some churches like to organize a banquet or some kind of an event to recognize their pastor and if you'd like some creative ideas about how and what you can do we have a free planning guide for you at our website and I want to recommend you check it out and don't limit your positive feedback to the month of October. Pastors and their families need to know that we the people sitting in the pews care about them throughout the year, but this is a great reminder today that we need to start somewhere so please contact us about how you can begin encouraging your pastor in the days ahead. We have several resources that I know you'll find helpful. One is our clergy appreciation month planning guide, then we have a list of retreat centers that offer rest and renewal for church and ministry leaders and of course the book I mentioned earlier, the heart of a great pastor, which offers a lot of encouragement to pastoral couples would be happy to send a copy of that book to you as you make a donation of any amount to Focus on the Family either a monthly pledge or one-time gift that's our way of saying thank you for partnering with us to show pastors and their families how much we care and I will have all the details on the website that let me pop one must question and y'all can answer one of your whatever a practical flanks of someone for this late notice.

Maybe they talk to the pastor's wife and they know there's some difficulty.

What is something we can do to help our pastors today tell you one of things that we found Nate was gift cards for them. Yeah, we pick a date night. Here's a hard and so we've we were the beneficiaries of that and then now that were sitting in the pew for an October that's what we did for our pastor. We said hey here's a gift card. This is for you and your wife. You find some to take care your kids. And then he sent us a note and said, man that was such a neat idea that you had for what I so appreciate pastors appreciation month, but HB London, who was at focus started that I think even Hallmark picked up on it started doing cards that would also say he laments the fact that that's great. We are concentrating October 11 other months and how beautiful it is to do some things throughout the year. So that's a great idea. Thanks for that can add one sure okay so I we have four kids and sell house was busy and we had a couple approaches. Sometimes you know it taking your kids go carting and you can't come you guys get the night off and were taking your kids and you know when is a mom to have somebody point.

Yeah, because of the role that you play and difference in making in their lives, not just as something to you and it's evident today can sweetly to her in the same church for 22 years and our kids. That's home and it's multigenerational and it's because those of those events throughout those times and he were working to take them merge is huge thanks for being with us.

Thank you. What a great conversation we had today with our panel of guests who helped us to better understand the important need to care for our pastors and their families and to pray for them on a regular basis, I don't forget the resources that we mentioned along the way the free planning guide for ways to celebrate your pastor this month and the list of retreat centers that offer rest and refreshment to ministry leaders and then finally the book, the heart of a great pastor is a really good gift idea for your pastor. Learn more about all of these resources in the episode notes will of all the details right there or call 800 K in the word for what I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your family and with your church family as well course and then please join us again on Monday and have insights and encouragement from comedian Ken Davis.

You know what almost 60 years of living has taught me only with God's will come to life with God's fulfillment come to life. Everything else leaves you stranded on the beach feeling cheap of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back once more help you and your family thrive in Christ

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