Here is a prayer for you to pray for your pastors, ministers and clergy members and their spouses.  Pray this prayer regularly and especially remember to pray for your clergy couple on Clergy Appreciation Day on the second Sunday in October.

Prayer for my Clergy Couple

Dear Lord,

I thank you so much for ___________ and _____________.  You have sent them to our church to lead us, teach us, pray for us, and love us. I pray that you will provide for their needs. I pray that you will bless their efforts on our behalf. I pray that you will give them good health. Lord, I ask that you would put your loving arms around them and their family. Lord, we pray for your continued blessings  and we thank you that you have sent the _________ family to our church. It is in your Son’s name that I pray.  Amen

Prayerful insights into the life of your clergy couple

I’ve found that people often misunderstand the ins and outs of the life their clergy couple leads.  Here are some insights to help you pray for your clergy couple.

The call to ministry and living that life can be fraught with scary stuff, aggravating stuff, sensitive stuff, religious stuff, crazy stuff, faith stuff, and church stuff. Many people have no clue what lives we lead, our ambitions, our daily journey, our “glass house” living. However, there are a few insightful writers out there that can point out church and family issues of a clergy family and get it right.

Often when a clergy couples arrives at a new church the word “change” is a dirty word among most church members and it brings unrest to the congregation. First impressions really don’t mean a lot if the previous clergy family has left a negative atmosphere or the congregation cannot see though the glass house well enough to avoid assumptions or comparisons. Nevertheless, the clergy couple or clergy family have to work on avoid getting cut by that “glass house”.

I have met many, many couples and families called to the ministry. The calling hasn’t changed but the world has changed dramatically. They have their own Christian journey and carry the same message.

A typical day in the life of ministry could include getting everyone breakfast, making lunches, and getting the kids to school. The mom may work full time, part time, stay at home, or work in ministry. The dad is full time or bi-vocational, part time, or works a full-time job and a full-time church. Then blend in the church activity schedule, after school activities, possibly sport teams, and eating supper together (if possible). That’s not only a full schedule but it is a very delicate chocolate cake trying to bake in the oven without coming out undone or falling and collapsing in on itself.

Every clergy couple and clergy family have a full schedule that guides their ministry. And just like everyone else, has the same issues that can cause anxiety and helplessness, depression and anger, tiredness and exhaustion. None of us are immune to money problems, relationship issues, parenting mistakes. Our houses aren’t dusted, the yard looks like a mess and the kids won’t get off their phones.

Clergy couples and families face issues in ministry that are not that normal nor are they issues easy to repair. Unrealistic expectations, church bullies, disrespectful words, bad attitudes, power struggles, and my favorite, the Blame Game are just a few issues that clergy families face ongoing.

At the end of the day, we try to stay hopeful, joyful, and trust that God will sustain us. But we are not perfect. We are not any different than any other believer or any other couple or any other family. We are just as accountable for our actions as every other Christian.

We are shy, loud, excitable, rude, outgoing. We get happy, angry, frustrated, tired, bored. We are leaders and followers. We sometimes work paycheck to paycheck. We are homeowners, apartment leasers and parsonage dwellers. We want to give up when things are bad, just like the next person. We want to stay strong for those going through hard times.

Our calling to ministry sets us apart. Our willingness to go and minister to others sets us apart. But I truly believe that we all as Christians have one thing in common; The Gospel message and Jesus Christ.

This is a pet peeve of mine. One of the most difficult experiences that we can face is when the church only sees the clergy couple as just employees.

Many times through the years I have tried to figure out how to communicate about this issue to HR committees or Pastor/Parish committees. Usually I can’t convince these committees about what I see happening in churches. My thoughts about this are: The Pastor is an employee but he is also the Pastor or leader of the church. Communicating with him or her should be done with sensitivity and with firmness. If the Pastor has done something wrong, that should also be addressed with sensitivity and with firmness.

Sometimes the Pastor gets complaints and some HR committees have to address the issues. But jumping to conclusions, misrepresenting facts, yelling, or using harsh words to berate the Pastor is uncalled for. One clergy couple we met years ago told us about how the congregation actively complained about everything that they did, from forgetting to mention an announcement about a sick church member to moving flowers off the piano for musicians to see each other.

The criticisms never end. The work doesn’t slow down. The church wants a Leader and wife. The two for one deal; And yes, I have heard this many times through the years. And No, I don’t play the piano!

The clergy couple is on 24/7 and this can affect any lifestyle. I was so proud to hear that a local pastor told his congregation that he would be attending his son’s game rather than lead the Wednesday Services. He strived to be a good Dad and that this was the last Home game and He wanted to be there and enjoy time with his son. Unless a clergy couple takes the time to spend with each other or their families, they will be focused on the church, its members, and community. They will miss out on living the life that God has for them. The best thing that one can do is pray for clergy couples and their families. Get to know who they really are, not who you assume they are!

Copyright Vivian Hethcoat 2013.  All rights reserved.