Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Vocational Health in a Post-Church Era!

Reading time: two minutes. Here’s some statistics from Barna Trends 2018 that show how respect for our profession as church workers is rapidly diminishing.  When asked “Do the following people/institutions have your best interests in mind?” it’s not surprising that America responded, Government: 6% and Universities: 16%, but it’s heartbreaking that Clergy came in at only 36%. People think we don’t care.  This is going to hard on us as a vocation, and especially hard on the youngest among us and those young people with whom we try to discuss the joys of ministry. Vocational health in these challenging days will require some thick skin. There’s more from Barna’s research.  When asked, “Are pastors influential in the community?” people responded “Very” only 19% of the time, but “Not at all” 24% of the time.  They also asked, “Are pastors a credible source of insight on today’s issues?” Only 21% believed pastors are “Very credible.”  25% said “No” or “Not very credible” and another 15% said they were not sure. That’s not very encouraging. When pastors hit the headlines it’s not usually positive news.  Scandals of abuse, criminality and misbehavior have discredited all of us.  Social media have made it difficult for pastors because of the rapid communication of bad news, but also because of the positives.  We’re always being compared to both the worst and to the best. I’m convinced that the greatest burden pastors and commissioned ministers face in congregational life are the unrealistic expectations.  Nobody can be super-human either morally or professionally, but that’s often the standard by which we are measured. Stuart Briscoe once said that “A pastor must have the heart of a child, the mind of a scholar, and the skin of a rhinoceros.”  There’s a kernel of truth in all three of those statements, but I think the last one is a bit of wisdom to take to heart. The prophets of old were often slandered, abused and rejected by the authorities of their age.  King Amaziah didn’t give the prophet Amos one lick of credit or one minute of his attention and ultimately told him to get lost, to go back to where he came. Because of his confidence in the call of God, confidence which is critical to vocational health,  Amos had skin thick enough to tell the King, “The Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now then, hear the word of the Lord” (Amos 7:15-16). I pray that the certainty of God’s call on your life and the promise of His blessing and strength will give you that same kind of thick skin. Thanks for reading. A Congregational Wellness Weekend is designed to help create a ministry environment at your church or school where professional church workers can thrive and serve joyfully in their calling at top capacity. Let’s start the conversation today! Find more information on our website or contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman to learn more.