TEN UNFAIR EXPECTATIONS OF PASTORS’ WIVES

TEN UNFAIR EXPECTATIONS OF PASTORS’ WIVES

By Thom Rainer

The pastor’s wife in many churches carries heavy burdens.

Sometimes they are impossible expectations.

To be fair, this post could refer to any church staff person, male or female, so it could be called ministers’ spouses. For simplicity, and because I primarily hear from this group of people, I refer to them as pastors’ wives.

So what are some of these unfair expectations? Here are the top ten expectations imposed upon these ladies.

  1. “I am expected to attend every function at the church.” One wife told us that church members resent it when she is seen doing anything outside the church.
  2. “Many church members expect me to know everything that is happening in the church.” In other words, they should know everything their pastor/husband knows.
  3. “We have several church members who feel free to complain to me about my husband.” So her church has several members who are lacking in emotional intelligence.
  4. “Church members utilize me as a de facto assistant to my husband, giving me messages for him.” One wife shared with us that she received eleven messages to give to her husband after a specific worship service.
  5. “I am still amazed how many church members expect me to function as an employee of the church.” Some are expected to lead music or play piano. Others are expected to act in a specific ministry employee role such as student or children’s director.
  6. “Some of the members expect our children to be perfect and act perfect.” One wife explained that she and her husband were new to a church when a church member confronted them about their misbehaving children. Their outlandish sin was running in the church after a worship service.
  7. “I am always supposed to be perfectly made up and dressed when I leave the house.” A church member expressed her dismay to a pastor’s wife who ran into a grocery store without makeup. You can’t make this stuff up.
  8. “I have no freedom at our church to be anything but perfectly emotionally composed.” This story really got to me. A deacon chastised a pastor’s wife for shedding tears at church four days after her dad died.
  9. “I think some of our church members expect my family to take a vow of poverty.”She was specifically referring to the criticism she received for purchasing a six-year-old minivan after her third child was born.
  10. “So many church members expect me to be their best friend.” And obviously a pastor’s wife can’t be the best friend to everyone, so she disappoints or angers others.

These are some of the comments we have received at this blog over the years from pastors’ wives. And it seems as though these trials are more gender biased. For example, the husband of a children’s minister commented that he rarely has the pressure and expectations that he sees imposed upon female spouses.

But more than other staff positions, the pastor is naturally the focus of attention and, often, criticism.

And the pastor’s family, by extension, becomes the focus of unfair and unreasonable expectations.

 

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on September 4, 2017. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

5 comments

  • sharon

    Spot on with these expectations; somedays the pressure is overwhelming.

  • Major Ellis

    If you think these are something you should interview the wife of a Salvation Army officer . Yes, he is a minister / ????Pastor as well.

    I enjoyed this article. I have recently retired as a minister and you would be surprised at the comments that come about you even in retirement.
    God Bless!

  • Brian Scott

    Perhaps another demand is being doing and achieving the exact role responsibility and attitude of the most successful friendly and best spuse who has left the church community. The demands are never clear at the start of a ministry perhaps this is a question that should be asked. Whay is expected of Us? If the responsability is achievable then those whom answer for the church are the ones who should then explain to the community whay is expected and achievable. There seems to be a lot of church life run by a few when all are called to participate.

  • Emma

    As an Evangelist and Pastor’s wife of 39 years, one is expected to serve on the same level and with the same perfection and anointing as in earlier years. Otherwise, one’s worth & value is diminished in the eyes of the people, howbeit that God allows a time when His servant is being tried and tested. God’s faithful servant, Job, was allowed by God to be greatly attacked by the enemy, satin, and suffered devastating loss. Never the less, Job declared, “…but He knoweth the way that I take:when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10 KJV). God has spoken and, like Job, my latter will be greater!

  • Monica Anyango Akoro

    Our expectations of pastor’s wives are very high. We thought they should be our role model

TEN REASONS IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO BE A PASTOR TODAY

TEN REASONS IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO BE A PASTOR TODAY

I can’t tell pastors today how difficult it was when I was a pastor.

To the contrary, I have to be honest and tell them it is more difficult now.

All three of my sons went into vocational ministry after serving in the business world. One of them is in seminary administration and two of them are pastors. I never pushed them in that direction. I knew they could not make it unless they were certain God called them.

Yes, it is indeed more difficult to be a pastor today than earlier years. At least ten major issues led to these challenges.

  1. The advent of social media. As a consequence, private criticisms have become public forums. The fish bowl life of a pastor’s family is now 24/7.
  2. Podcast pastors. When I was a pastor, there were only a few well-known television pastors as points of comparison to my inferiority. Today, church members have hundreds, if not thousands, of pastors on podcast they compare to their own pastors.
  3. Diminished respect for pastors. When I was a pastor, most people held my vocation in high esteem, even those not in church. Such is not the case today.
  4. Generational conflict in the church. While there has always been some generational conflict in the church, it is more pervasive and intense today.
  5. Leadership expectations. Pastors are expected today to have more leadership and business skills. We constantly hear from pastors, “They didn’t teach me that at seminary.”
  6. Demise of the program-driven church. In past years, church solutions were simpler. Churches were more homogeneous, and programmatic solutions could be used in almost any context. Today churches are more complex and contexts are more varied.
  7. Rise of the “nones.” There is a significant increase in the numbers of people who have no religious affiliation. The demise of cultural Christianity means it is more difficult to lead churches to growth.
  8. Cultural change. The pace of change is breathtaking, and much more challenging today. It is exceedingly more difficult today for pastors to stay abreast with the changes around them.
  9. More frustrated church members. Largely because of the cultural change noted above, church members are more frustrated and confused. They often take out their frustrations on pastors and other church leaders.
  10. Bad matches with churches. In earlier years, there was considerable homogeneity from church to church, particularly within denominations and affiliated church groups. Today churches are much more diverse. A pastor who led well in one context may fare poorly in another unless there is a concerted effort to find the right match for a church and pastor.

These ten reasons are not statements of doom and gloom; they are simply statements of reality. Serving as pastor in a church today has more challenges than it did years ago.

But challenges in ministry are common throughout the history from the first church to today. Such is the reason no pastors can lead well without the power, strength, and leadership of the One who called them.

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 1, 2017. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

5 comments

  • Scotty Searan

    This was a good article.
    Being a pastor has never been for the fainthearted.
    But for the reasons listed it is more harder, especially if they are a full gospel pastor.
    The fact remains that we are getting closer to the end of time and our Lord Jesus Christ return.
    Satan is putting on his final onslaught.
    You’ve been around long enough and you have seen the churches grow further away from God, gradually compromising till you can’t tell a Saint of God from a sinner.
    Though some churches may have grown larger, most have grown smaller.
    I believe the decline started in the 40’s with advent of World War II. The mothers was taken out of the holy God inspired roll of being a homemaker and went into manufacturing to keep war supplies built.
    Then in 50’s we had the advent of Television and it created a lot of lust covetousness. which is sins
    We let them be the babysitter and we are paying the price today.
    This is a thumbnail version. we pushed aside our convictions, because some preachers said it was legalism.
    I do not care, what people may think of me, but we need more legalism in the churches, because iot kept people from sinning
    Can we as Saints of God agree on what is worldliness?

  • Tom Sowell

    Great article. Two things you brought up I have been saying for years: 1. Social media is tearing the church apart. 2. You need to find a balance between the old and the new. Why do you need to have a contemporary service and a traditional service? There should be compromise on both sides. In my mind this is a church divided, and Jesus said a house divided against itself will surely fall.

  • I’ve been a preacher for over 30 years… I’m afraid I don’t see what this guy is saying. Social media (SM) allows me to stay in touch with folks and I have no trouble challenging bad behavior there if need be. Before SM I had gossipers try to destroy me in another church. It was as bad without SM as it is for some preachers with it. In the same way… most of the other point have always been true as well.

    Instead of worrying about what makes ministry harder, we should focus on how things like SM can make our ministries more powerful for God. I’m told there was a time when Mother Teresa was on an airplane with some of her nuns. One of the nuns came to Teresa and said “We have a problem”. Teresa calmly said “No, we have a blessing”. In other words, that which is seen as a difficulty or problem often turn into powerful tools for God

  • I followed in the footsteps of my father, and I molded his style of being a pastor, not a CEO of a non-profit organization, not a business man, and not a bull-headed and bold dictator. I learned in seminary how to interpret scripture and to preach well and be a pastoral and caring shepherd and spiritual leader. But I kept getting pushed out of every church I served due to administration and leadership reasons. Now I am teaching at a community college and working in the mortuary business and working as a janitor. It’s a shame that one with a M. Div degree is working three part time jobs that have nothing to do with professional ministry. But I am not going to put myself back into that burdensome situation again. Great article . I could not agree more. My father served for over 60 years as a minister, but he served the generations before mine. Many of my fellow seminarians are no longer in the ministry for the reasons given above.

  • Lucas Nzogere

    Yes Dr Rainer ,this may be real in the western countries ,but in Africa most of the issues you mentioned are not applicable ,we still have alot to do to preach the Gospel, actually we have different challenges comparing to you,especially in rural areas ,where we need transport, communication and supports to Servants .People needs to hear the Gospel and change lives, but we are struggling to invest in the Harvest.
    So for you those ten issues may be challenging ,but for Africa no.,

Six Things You Need to Know about Pastors Who Leave Their Ministry

Six Things You Need to Know about Pastors Who Leave Their Ministry

sixthings

By Thom Rainer

I had no idea he was a former pastor.

He emailed me on a business matter. I noticed his email said nothing about his ministry, so I asked about his ministry in my response.

“I am out of the pastorate,” he responded. “And I have no plans to ever go back.”

From my perspective, this man would have been one of the least likely to leave the pastorate. Not only did he leave, he is adamant he will not return.

LifeWay Research recently released a study about pastors who left the pastorate before they were retirement age. You can read more about the study here, but I want us to look at six key issues from the study that are vitally important.

  1. Nearly half (48%) of those who left the pastorate said the search committee did not accurately represent the church. I have heard this information anecdotally, but I did not expect the response to be this high.
  2. More than half (54%) of the respondents said a church member had attacked them personally. Consequently, one of four said they left the church because of conflict.
  3. Nearly half (48%) of the former pastors said they had not been trained for relational and leadership issues. We hear this from current pastors and staff as well.
  4. Four in ten of those who left the pastorate said they had a change in calling. We hope to delve into this issue later.
  5. One in eight of the former pastors left for financial reasons. Many pastors are underpaid. Many pastors leave the pastorate as a consequence.
  6. One in eight of the respondents left because of family issues. Again, we have covered this issue several times at the blog and on the podcast.

How do we respond to these issues? How can we be greater supporters of our pastors and staff so they don’t feel like they have to leave the church? Let me hear your thoughts.

Print

Methodology:

The online survey of former senior pastors was conducted Aug. 11-Oct. 2, 2015. The sample lists were provided by four Protestant denominations: Assemblies of God, Church of the Nazarene, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and Southern Baptist Convention. Each survey was completed by an individual who has served as a senior (or sole) pastor but stopped serving as senior pastor prior to age 65. The completed sample is 734 former pastors. The study was sponsored by the North American Mission Board and Richard Dockins, M.D.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on January 13, 2016. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

22 comments

  • Pastor James Benware

    If they left it was because they were not called of God, they were just a hireling.God doesn’t let HIS ministers leave, he takes care of them.

    • Barry L. Davis

      James,
      If God calls them to it, can’t He also call them to something else? Are all calls permanent?

      • Barry is right. I think James talks out of miscontrued ideas. All of them are not “not called”, but God has his ways. Granted, some are not called and discovered it down the road, but we cannot generalize. Please, James, if you are really called by God, go in a time of retrospection as it is not normal that a called one speak that way.

      • Not trying to stir up anything here, just curious about what to do with Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”. I believe if God calls a man that will not change. What may change is the leading of the Lord in the fulfillment of that call. God CALLS a man into the ministry and may LEAD him to serve in the Pastorate for a time. Then the door may open to be invoked in some kind of educational ministry. He may serve on a foreign mission field for a time. He may conclude his ministry by having a ministry of helps to small and struggling churches. If a man is God-called he won’t quit the ministry. The calling never changed but the leafing of the Lord throughout his life and ministry may have. Just MO.

        • Barry L. Davis

          Billy,
          I addressed this with another poster below.

          “The text I believe you are referring to, Romans 11:29, is about God’s relationship to Israel and has nothing to do with a call to ministry.”

        • John Williams

          Note, the bible says the gifts and callings of God(callings, more than one), I know ministers who when they were young were evangelist and when they were older, they were called to Pastor. Some people have several callings and many gifts. I know Pastors who function as Pastor and evangelist. Some people have gift combos, i.e…Chuck Smith.. I know one young man who had the call to Pastor and his wife would not support him in it, according to him, the Lord kept dealing with her and she would not yield, so he became an evangelist and is doing well. He still believes he is called to Pastor, but he married someone who rejects that call. To be honest, God can call anyone to anything at anytime according to his need.

      • Queen Nesbitt

        It’s a permanent position. God wouldn’t call you to be a pastor and then call you to something that will take you from Him.

    • Pastor. David Dyer

      Let us be not so quick today to why but let us pray first for that person/ Pastor to seek God before he or she leaves. We must be in a personal relationship with God and deep mediation follow by know this is your calling without doubting we’ve been choosing as well. Every Pastor calling is not the same. We must be in Love w Love because God is Love. Just food for thought. Peace &blessing Pastor David Dyer

  • I would think numbers 1 and 2 would be much higher. Most pastors I have known and other studies I have read talk about leaving a particular pastorate due to conflict. Some couch the truth of the conflict by saying they left for a “change in calling”, but most often it seems to be some type of conflict that initiated the change of heart.

  • Pastor Scott Bailey

    I’ve been a pastor for over 18 years. In the 18 years plus, I’ve never ran into a bunch of Godless fakes & phonies. It seems like the people of the world (The lost) are more kind caring & concerned then the church people. So many churches that I’ve pastored in are in love with the building & Jesus is at the door knocking to get in & they just won’t let Him in. The congregations of the churches I’ve pastored & preached in are mean, nasty ugly people & it seems to be getting worse. To some this may sound crazy to hear a pastor talk like this, but being a pastor today isn’t like what it was long ago.

    Signed

    One big discouraged pastor.

    • Jerry Owens

      After 28 years of being a Pastor I left due to health mainly and other reasons. I look back and see difficulties and accomplishment. God’s call is still on my life. I serve in other capacities. Serving as Pastor is not for the faint of heart and God will provide.

    • Dick Pierson

      It probably isn’t any worse now than in years gone by. We just aren’t afraid to discuss it now. I too have experienced “bait and switch” churches. Often their denomination instructs them not to be completely honest because it will frighten prospects a way. Ours has become a business of telling people what they want to hear instead of Christ’s truth. Retirement was like waking from a bad dream.

  • Bruce Matee

    I am also a minister who left the pastorate. My reason for leaving is not clearly articulated in the response options you have provided

  • Pastor Garry Brooks

    I would have to agree with the discouraged pastor. I too find myself having to apologize more times than not because of a congregation member who for hurt feelings because I didn’t hug or say hi to 3 year old child or their grandparents or the parent. When I attempt to work with the congregation all I hear is “well we’re not young anymore” or I’ve done my time” now all you big rime pastors that have staff can say its my fault or I’m just don’t understand the Ministry. you say that because you either have a church that appreciates you or get a 6 digit income to include insurance and retirement. You figure it out.

  • Loren

    Would like to hear more about this : change of calling, since His calling and gifts are irrevocable. Does God, would God change your calling?

  • Gods child

    If we do not forget that it’s not about us,we can focus on being the vessel he called us to be….we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the Excellency of the power may be of him and not us..deny yourselves take up your cross and follow JESUS!

  • Pastor Femi Olawale

    Unfortunately, we Pastors are just reaping what we are sowing or what we allowed to be sown. As much as we have preached the corrupted gospel for so long, what we have in the Churches is the expected harvest. We now have members that doesn’t fear God and ministers have arose among them after the order of Khora and Abiram!

    Ministry should be the best place to serve, because the reward is eternal, but we are being hunted by the harvest of our sown seed (corrupted gospel). There is a gospel that constitute the power of God unto salvation and until we return to the true gospel men will remain unconverted and remain wild on the pews. May the Lord help us!

  • captain samson G. kanmoe

    Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek the kingdom of God and its righteousness and everything other thing will be given to us. My question to us pastors is are we walking in righteousness ? If yes then the God who called us is faithful to take care of us and our ministries

The Top Ten Most Fiercely Defended Traditions in Churches

The Top Ten Most Fiercely Defended Traditions in Churches

barbed-wire-border-fence-348-830x550By Thom Rainer

I recently embarked on a major research project for a new resource I will soon be offering. Part of my research included a long review of thousands of comments made on this site over the past few years. Though my research had another purpose, I became intrigued by the comments related to church traditions.

Of course, by “traditions,” I am referring to those extra-biblical customs that become a way of life for many congregations. A tradition is neither inherently good nor bad. Its value or its distraction in a given church really depends on how members treat the traditions.

With that in mind, I began noting the most frequently defended traditions in churches. As a corollary, these traditions can also be a potential source of divisiveness. They are ranked here according to the frequency of the comments.

  1. Worship and music style. Though I have noted elsewhere that this issue is not as pervasive as it once was, it is still number one.
  2. Order of worship service. Thou shalt not change any items in the order of worship.
  3. Times of worship service(s). The first three most frequently defended traditions are related to worship services.
  4. Role of the pastor. The pastor is to be omnipresent and omniscient. Many church members have clear expectations of what “their” pastor should do.
  5. Committee structure. Many congregations continue committee structures long after their usefulness has waned.
  6. Specific ministries and programs. The healthy church constantly evaluates the effectiveness of its ministries and programs. That’s good stewardship. Other churches continue their ministries and programs because that’s the way they’ve always done it.
  7. Location of church facility. A church relocation can be an issue of fierce debate, even contention, in many congregations.
  8. Use of specific rooms. Some of the more frequently named rooms are the worship center, the parlor, the gym, and the kitchen/fellowship hall.
  9. Business meetings. Traditions include the frequency of business meetings, the scope of authority of business meetings, and the items covered in business meetings.
  10. Staff ministry descriptions. Some churches insist on having the same staff positions with the same titles with the same ministry descriptions even though the needs in the congregations may have changed dramatically.

My purpose in writing this article is twofold. First, I thought it might be of interest to church leaders. Second, I hope it can provide a cautionary note for those who are leading change.

Let me hear from you. Do these fiercely defended traditions seem familiar in your church? What would you add?

 

ThomRainerThis article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on February , 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Why Some Churches Choose to Die

Why Some Churches Choose to Die

Why-Some-Churches-Choose-to-Die

By Thom Rainer

The conversation surprised me.

I was recently meeting with about a dozen members of a church that was on the precipice of closing. During their perceived “good old days,” the average worship attendance was in the 40s and 50s. Now the church attendance was in the teens. The church was on metaphorical life support.

I shared with them some items of urgency that might give them some glimmer of hope. So I was surprised when one of the members asked me a question that seemed to come from nowhere: “Will we have to sing from screens instead of hymnals?” she asked with a tinge of anger.

I never responded directly to the question. It was too late. The few members were of one mind about an issue so peripheral I had never anticipated it. I left saddened.

The church had chosen to die.

The Need and the Passion

It is my life and ministry passion to help churches, particularly struggling churches, to revitalize. One of the greatest needs of churches today is to choose to live and to thrive.

Unfortunately, many congregations are choosing to die. For certain, they are not calling a business meeting and making a motion to die. Their choices are more subtle and, often, more incremental. But the end result is the same.

Churches are choosing to die.

Five Deadly Choices

So what are churches doing specifically that leads to their demise? Here are five of the more common choices.

  1. They refuse to face reality. I was in a dying church recently. The congregational average attendance was 425 seven years ago. Today it is 185. I could find no one in the church who thought the trends were bad. They were in a state of delusion and denial.
  2. They are more concerned about greater comfort than the Great Commission.Church membership has become self-serving. The church is more like a country club than the body of Christ. People are “paying dues” to get what they want in the church. It’s all about their preferences and desires.
  3. They are unwilling to accept responsibility. It’s the fault of culture. All the new churches in town are to blame. If someone wants to come to our church, they know where we are. People just don’t want to come to church anymore. Excuses and more excuses. I have never been in a community that is nearly fully churched. There are many people to reach. Excuses preclude obedience.
  4. They are too busy fighting and criticizing. If we could take the energy of church critics and antagonists into reaching people with the gospel, our churches would become evangelistic forces. Unfortunately in many churches, members expend most of their energies criticizing leadership and others, and fighting over trivial issues.
  5. They are confusing non-negotiables with negotiables. Almost ten years ago, a couple of men who live near me asked to visit with me in my home. They wanted me to consider visiting their church. One of the men told me their church was one of the few in the area defending the faith. I asked him what he meant by that. He explained that the faith was one particular Bible translation and traditional hymns. I wasn’t sure what happened to the bodily resurrection and substitutionary atonement. The church died within seven years.

Choosing to Live Rather Than Die

Most churches have choices to live or die. We use the word “revitalize” because it means to live again. I hope you will join me in this passion to see unhealthy churches become healthy, to see churches choose to live.

As one way of being a part of this movement of revitalization, I have teamed up with Revitalized Churches in Florida to offer the best resources we can to help in this cause. They are once again offering the resource that has helped hundreds of churches move toward revitalization.

Those churches have chosen to live.

Such is my prayer for your church.

 

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on November 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

What to do when a church member is giving you the cold shoulder.

2 comments

Nine Issues Regarding Pastors and Office Hours

Nine Issues Regarding Pastors and Office Hours

clock-pastors

By Thom Rainer

I know. I’ve been there.

Almost every week, and sometimes two or more times a week, a lay leader would wait in the church parking lot to see what time I arrived. He would also come back in the afternoon to see what time I left.

I was pastor of the church. This layman’s perspective was that I earned my pay by being in the office over 40 hours a week.

In a more recent scenario, the lead pastor of a church I know required all of the other pastors to have set office hours. But he also expected them to be relational and in the community. He kept track of their hours in a very legalistic way.

So what should a pastor and staff do regarding church office hours? What should be the expectations of the church members about their schedules? Allow me to respond by noting nine key issues.

  1. Pastors must be out of the office on a regular basis to be a relational presence in the community. The most effective pastors I know give relational presence a priority. That presence is to both church members and those who aren’t members of the church.
  2. The office hours of a pastor demand flexibility due to unexpected issues. A pastor must rush to the hospital when he gets word that a teenage girl was seriously injured in an automobile accident. Such emergencies and events can neither be planned nor neglected.
  3. The pastor’s office often is not conducive to sermon preparation. It is not unusual for a pastor to spend 20 hours or more per week working on sermons. But it is not unusual for the pastor’s office to be the source of multiple interruptions. Sometimes a pastor must go elsewhere to get the sermon done.
  4. Most pastors have evening responsibilities. Their only time off, therefore, may be during a weekday. Obviously the pastor can’t keep office hours for those days.
  5. A few pastors are lazy. Thus, the overused joke that the pastor is “visiting the greens” (i.e. the golf course) has been repeated too many times. Yes, some pastors do take advantage of their flexible schedules. But don’t assume that all pastors fit this category. Most pastors have a greater challenge with workaholism. And insisting on rigid office hours is not a solution to a problem of laziness.
  6. Some laypersons have unrealistic expectations about pastors’ office hours. They are certainly the exception, but just a few can make life miserable for a pastor. As I noted above, one layperson made my life pretty uncomfortable.
  7. The best situations I have seen take place when the pastor and the church have an informal understanding about office hours. I strongly prefer informal agreements since pastors have totally unpredictable schedules. I know of one example where the church asks the pastor to be available for 20 hours a week for meetings, counseling, and drop-by visits. But the church members clearly understand that the schedule cannot be rigid.
  8. Some pastors prefer to have clearly designated office hours for a part of the week. When I was a pastor, I designated Monday as an office day for staff meetings and meetings with church members. If an emergency occurred, the church understood. If they needed me at other times, which they did frequently, I understood. But I tried my best to protect Mondays to be in the office for meetings.
  9. The office hours of church staff other than the lead pastor should reflect the nature and needs of that position. A student pastor, for example, should be in the schools and the community more often than in the office. An administrative pastor may spend the bulk of the week in the office.

What is your perspective regarding pastors and office hours? What do you think of my nine issues? Let me hear from you.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on December 1, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

2 comments

  • Ralph Juthman

    What is presumed by the article is that the pastor is full time with staff. However this does not reflect the majority of churches and pastors, who serve as solo lead pastors and or bivocaational. The expectations of the people remain the same regardless which places great pressure upon the pastor to perform. The end result being burnout at worst or a short pastorate at best

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