Medenblog: Give them a break!

This article appears in the President's Blog edition of the Calvin Seminary Forum

One of the privileges of serving as President of Calvin Theological Seminary is that you meet with a lot of pastors and a lot of congregational leaders. Meetings have led to deeper connections and conversations. As a result, I have become a confidential friend, mentor and colleague in different ministry contexts.

In this past year, I have shared in different ways about the difficulties, challenges, laments and learnings of the last many months.

I recently came across the following opening to a Christianity Today article that should cause all of us to pause – After 15 months of pandemic response and political mayhem, it’s no wonder that many pastors have thought about a career change. Barna (Reports) recently found that 29% of pastors have seriously considered leaving the profession.

Here is the full article.

I write this article knowing that many churches do very well in listening to and coming around their pastoral leaders. Thank you for what you have done! At the same time, the pandemic has brought a multiplier effect of stress, work and fatigue. So what do I suggest?

I recently saw this Final Jeopardy Question - A 1951 TIME article said, “Since the war,” this 2-word term for a period of time “has been written into union contracts”

Correct response: What is “coffee break”?

The juxtaposition that in a time of great stress (World War II) that the coffee break became part of the work day is a reminder that “breaks” are needed to address times of stress and fatigue.

So what do I suggest?

I suggest that you “give them a break!”

What that looks like on the local ministry level will differ, but I suggest that church councils and other leaders directly do “something” in the next few months that show value, respect and even concern for their pastoral staff.

At Calvin Seminary, we recently said that five days of vacation for 2020-2021 could roll over to the next fiscal year. Maybe you could do the same or even add vacation days or do an extra week of pulpit supply or find a vacation week setting.

Thanks for “doing something” as one way of being a friend and support to those who have been walking with so much weight, pain and loss during this pandemic. The benefit will show up as a model of a community of care that honors God and one another!

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