Ways to support your pastor across five dimensions of well-being
January 13, 2023 / By Wespath
Editor's Note: This article appeared in the 2022 Issue II of the Advocate, which focused on spiritual wellness.
Good health is a foundation for effective pastoral leadership. The following “ways” are suggestions the Pastor/Staff Parish Relations Committee and the congregation can use to support their pastor’s health and well-being in all its dimensions—physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and financial—and thereby also support the mission and ministry of the congregation. You can learn more and view the full list provided by Wespath at https://www.wespath.org/assets/1/7/4775.pdf.
- Consider fruits and vegetables, or other healthy foods as a welcome/appreciation gift instead of baked goods.
- Allow the pastor sufficient time for recovery from illness, injury, or surgery.
- Don’t insist the pastor “try everything” at food-related events or push him/her to eat unhealthy foods.
- Respect the pastor’s privacy regarding personal health issues.
- Encourage the pastor to schedule two days off each week—a personal day in addition to a Sabbath day. Respect your pastor’s day off, contacting him/her only for “true emergencies.”
- Recognize that the role of a pastor requires a great deal of emotional energy. Be sensitive to more demanding times of the church year and arrange for additional support from lay members.
- Respect the privacy of the pastor and his/her family at home and in the community.
- Discuss any conflicts or disagreements first with the pastor directly and confidentially, giving him/her the benefit of the doubt and seeking reconciliation. Encourage others to do the same.
- Recognize that Sunday is a workday for the pastor. Encourage him/her to observe a Sabbath day, other than Sunday.
- Recognize that the pastor is also a Christian on a spiritual journey and will not have “all the answers.”
- Share with the pastor how his/her ministry has strengthened your own relationship with Christ.
- Support the pastor in practicing spiritual disciplines in a way that fits who they are and his/her personal relationship with Christ.
- Encourage the pastor to socialize with others outside the church “family” with whom he/she can “step outside” the pastoral role for a period of time.
- Support the pastor in “getting out-of-town” regularly, particularly when serving in a small town, in order to engage in activities outside the church’s direct mission field.
- Encourage the pastor to engage in hobbies and enjoyable recreational activities outside the church setting.
- Avoid scheduling church meetings or activities requiring the pastor’s presence more than two nights a week.
- Understand that the pastor’s spouse may also work to support the family financially in order to reach long-term goals, such as sending children to college, retirement, etc.
- Budget adequate funds to cover the costs of the pastor’s continuing education, as required by The Book of Discipline.
- Confirm your congregation supports the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment and other Conference-level funds supporting clergy education and scholarships.
- Be sure the pastor is aware of ways to make personal contributions toward his/her retirement and to utilize the financial planning resources available at no charge through Wespath Benefits and Investments.