“12 Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. 13 As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.” Exodus 17
This is an encouragement for the church and ministry leaders. Leadership is difficult. The call from God coupled with the stewardship of the congregation while juggling life has proven to be a large task. Here are some alarming statistics from SoulShepherding.com to offer some perspective:
75% of pastors report being “extremely stressed” or “highly stressed”
90% work between 55 to 75 hours per week
90% feel fatigued and worn out every week
70% say they’re grossly underpaid
40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month
78% were forced to resign from their church (63% at least twice), most commonly because of church conflict
80% will not be in ministry ten years later and only a fraction make it a lifelong career (1). On average, seminary trained pastors last only five years in church ministry
100% of 1,050 Reformed and Evangelical pastors had a colleague who had left the ministry because of burnout, church conflict, or moral failure
91% have experienced some form of burnout in ministry and 18% say they are “fried to a crisp right now”
With these stats in mind, we must consider ways that we can help preserve our leaders. I referenced the scripture from Exodus to highlight the fact that Moses’ arms became tired and began to fall. This was key because if his arm were raised, they were winning the battle. Once his arms grew weary and began to fall, the battle started to swing in the opposite direction. So instead of watching and wondering, they mobilized and supported him by lifting his arms. Your leaders, our leaders are tiring, their arms are beginning to fall. Here are some methods that can help you help them:
· Trust the Staff
o Exodus 18 “17This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. 18 “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.”
o 24 Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. 25 He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people.
§ Your leaders have likely earned your trust through seasons of proven dedication. You have trusted them to feed you and guide you spiritually and they have likely guided you through some of the most difficult times of your life. That same trust should be extended to those that they have delegated authority to and empowered. Just as Moses was in danger of exhausting himself, your leaders have that same danger. Therefore, to preserve themselves they have extended themselves in the form of a staff. One of the most effective ways of preserving your leadership is by trusting the staff that they have appointed to be an extension of them.
· Honor Time and Boundaries
o Mark 6:31 “31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”
§ Ministry can be both difficult and time consuming. Many leaders can attest to the fact that there have been times where they have been so consumed with the work of the Lord that they have neglected their families, their health, and more. In this text, Jesus saw the neglect and commanded them to go away for a while so they could feed themselves and refresh. The command to break away to themselves presents the concept of forming boundaries. Just as you need boundaries in your personal life, your leaders need them as well. Preserving your leaders also means to respect their boundaries. Office hours, protocols, rest periods, etc. should all be respected because of the scripture referenced, there are times where your leaders can in fact be burned out.
· Remember They are Human
o Romans 7
§ When you read through this chapter you see the apostle Paul detailing the fact that he has a struggle in his life. Without trying to ascertain the nature of the struggle, we can focus on the concept that he was showing his humanity. Your leaders are human, they face the same struggles and trials that you face. While they may have a different call on their lives, they battle with the flash every day just as you do. The final way you can preserve your leaders and be that support system that Moses had is to remember that they are human and learn to extend grace. They won’t always get it right, they will make mistakes, they will forget birthdays, etc. etc. However, you must realize that grace is a two-way street and should be reciprocal. The grace that you desire your leaders to give you, should be extended back to them just the same.
The church has been positioned to be essential need in this final hour. For the church to flourish, the leadership needs to be able to stand. Because we now know that ministry can be exhausting, it is up to those that are being led to do all they can to preserve their leaders.