Tag Archives: Pastor

What Does a Pastor Do?

This month is Pastor Appreciation Month, a time where you can reflect on what you pastor does and how he serves the church. However, many times I get the question, “What exactly does a pastor do?”

Usually our work titles explain what we do. Doctor? They work with patients and healthcare. Teacher? They work at a school teaching kids. Secretary? Works in an office and usually handles office work and telephones. But what does a pastor do, other than preach on Sundays?

This is a good question, one I’ve even been asked even by close family members. What does Dan do every week? Does it really take five days a week to come up with a sermon for Sunday?

So I thought I would share a little of what Dan does (and probably many of your pastors) every week.

Sermon Prep1) Study God’s Word and prepare a sermon. Dan usually plans his sermons months in advance, digging deeper into the series and the particular sermon as the Sunday draws near. This includes praying, studying the Bible, studying context, browsing commentaries and other writings on that particular topic or verse(s), finding illustrations, and praying some more.

2) Strategic Planning. A pastor doesn’t just preach every Sunday, he leads the church, usually in conjunction with an elder board. This means asking where is the church going? How are they reaching their community? How are they reaching the people already part of the church? How are they teaching and equipping their people? These are just a few of the questions he asks. Then he works with the elders and staff on how to answer these questions. If you’ve ever walked into our church and seen the whiteboards in the backroom, that’s Dan’s brain on strategy 😉  And not only is he asking these questions, he is in constant prayer about where God wants the church to go. After all, it’s not his church, it’s Christ’s church.

3) Meetings. Lots and lots of meetings. Dan meets with his staff every week to find out how they are doing, both in their ministry and personally, both as a group and individually. He cares about the people who serve the church and wants to help them in any way he can along with praying for them. He also meets with other pastors to encourage them, talk about the church community, and discover new ways of doing ministry. And he meets with the elders, to share his heart with them, to encourage them in their leading, and to work together to lead the church.

4) Counseling. Pastor means “shepherd” and as a pastor that means helping those in the congregation. Almost every week Dan meets with people who are struggling with their marriage, parenting, or life in general. He talks with them, shares what God’s Word says, and prays with them and for them. Trust me, this isn’t always an easy thing to do, to get involved in people’s messy lives, but when I watch Dan interact with people, I am amazed at his patience and love with those who are hurting.

5) Church events. Whether that is leadership training for small group leaders, teaching a class during an evening, or meeting with newcomers after church over pizza.

6) Pastoral care of church members. Sometimes this means conducting weddings, funerals, or hospital visits.

Praying hands7) Prayer. Dan prays a lot. If you didn’t notice, almost all the points up above have some aspect of prayer. Dan is always on his knees for the church. I know, I’ve walked in on him on his knees, praying, even sometimes in tears.

This is just a glimpse of what a pastor does. Along with his daily and weekly duties, he also strives to walk with God. A pastor must be Biblically qualified to lead the church. 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-4 lay out the character and lifestyle that a pastor/elder should exemplify. Not perfectly, but walking with God in humility. (I share more about church leadership here).

Many pastors also go to seminary or a Bible school to gain more training in theology, doctrine, etc.. as well as how to lead a church. Some have a master’s degree, some have 2 master’s degrees, and some even have a doctorate. This is not so they can show how smart they are, but so that they can accurately teach God’s Word.

The pastor’s family also serves by giving their husband and dad to the church so he can serve. Now I’ve seen unhealthy examples of where the dad/husband is never home because he’s always serving the church. That is never good for the family or the church. Instead, a healthy church/pastor family relationship is built on the understanding that there are times the church needs daddy and there are times the family needs daddy home. I wrote an article about the relationship between the pastor, his family, and the church here).

Sometimes a pastor gives up financial stability to serve the church. Most pastors are not in ministry for the money (and if they are, that’s a big problem). But many pastors, for all of their qualifications, education, and years of experience, make very little compared to most professions that require the same. They do this to serve the church. However, a pastor sometimes walks the line between living on the resources provided by the church and providing for their family (I share my thoughts about doing what you love for a living here).

In the end, the life and service of a pastor is not easy. Much is expected of him. He wakes up thinking and praying for the church, he goes to bed thinking and praying for the church. He gives of himself, his time, his resources, everything he is so that he can shepherd the people God has placed under his care.

Because of that, pastors need your prayer and support. You may never know the pressure they are under or the battles they are facing.

I would encourage you this week to say thank you to your pastor and tell him how much you appreciate what he does. I know from experience how much a word of encouragement can mean to a pastor 🙂


Profile of a Pastor’s Wife: Prayer

It’s ironic to be writing this post since I am no longer a pastor’s wife (at the moment). As many of you know, Dan was let go last Saturday. Some of you have asked what that means. Well, it means Dan is no longer an active pastor at the church we were at. Why? To be honest, we are not sure. All we know is that Dan’s contract was not renewed.

But I believe God had a plan when I began writing this series a couple weeks ago. This did not take God by surprise (even if it took us by surprise). And I believe God was preparing me when I took an inward look at what it meant to be a pastor’s wife and share my thoughts with all of you.

One thing God brought to my attention during this series is how many times I carry my burdens alone. I was always afraid to reach out, to ask someone to pray for me. I shouldered the hidden burdens of ministry alone because I believed that was my duty.

Sometime before last Saturday, I realized I was wrong. Or perhaps more accurately, God showed me I was wrong. I may not always be able to give people details (in fact, many times I cannot out of respect for the people Dan ministers to and respect for God’s order of things), but it was wrong of me to try and carry those heavy loads by myself. I realized just how wrong I was when I finally reached out a couple weeks ago and asked many of you to pray for us. I was not able to say why, but so many of you answered and lifted my family up in prayer. I experienced peace beyond my comprehension. My burden lifted. Thank you my friends.

Your pastor needs your prayers (and their families too). There is a battle out there, a battle many times you will not know about. But I know from first hand experience now how powerful and uplifting prayer is when you know you are covered in it. I told a friend the other day that when I know someone is praying for me, it halves the burden. And when two people are praying, the burden is halved more.

Keep your pastor in your prayers. Be on your knees for him, asking God to give him wisdom and encouragement. You will never know how much your prayers mean to him. Many times words of encouragement and prayer are like a glass of fresh cold water. Pastors need that. And you may be the one God sends to encourage him.

On a personal note, please pray for Dan and I. This is a scary place for us. We do not know what God has in store for our future. I have mentioned before that one of the darkest times in my life was when Dan was laid off a couple years ago.  Well, I’m back, and it’s as dark and scary as I remember it. Pray for our faith as it is tested in the next couple months. Pray that God will provide: financially, emotionally, spiritually for us. Pray for our children, especially our older two who understand more what it means for Dan to not have a job.

Thank you my friends for being there for us and for your prayers. Please feel free to drop us a line (or two). We always appreciate it 🙂

Profile of a Pastor’s Wife: The Pastor’s Polygamy

I share my husband with another. That other is the church. John Piper called it the pastor’s polygamy. Being a pastor is more than a job, it’s a life. It’s a life that my husband shares with all those God has placed under his care. Dan spends time with the church, his thoughts are on the church, his prayers are for the church.

The same is true of the kids and me. Dan spends time with us, his thoughts are on us, his prayers are for us. And so the church and I share Dan.

Learning to balance church and family has been something we have been learning since the day we married. Early on in his ministry, Dan was spending up to 5 nights a week doing church activities, not to mention full days. At that time I was home with a baby and a toddler. I rarely saw Dan and felt the weight of his absence. Let’s just say it wasn’t good for our marriage.

It came to the place that we realized that as good as church is, there needed to be time boundaries. It would be easy for Dan to spend all his hours with the church. But that would not be good for his family. And I came to realize that I have to let go of Dan and let him serve the church.

Those limits have been tested over the years. There are seasons when Dan is gone more than I would like. And there are times Dan has had to tell the church that he is needed at home. Sometimes, the church has not liked that.

But that’s what it means to share the same man. Compromise. Both sides allowing Dan to do what God tells him to do.

On a practical note, for me that has meant sometimes I am a single parent. I take the kids to church by myself so that Dan is free to minister to others on Sunday. I put the kids to bed at night so that Dan can attend his meetings at church. I stay home with sick kids on Sundays (I think I’ve been to church once in the last month lol).

I am not bitter by these situations. Why? Because by supporting my husband I am serving God.  I know my husband seeks to have a healthy home first, so he can help lead a healthy church (1 Timothy 3:5). I am thankful for the times the church compromises and allows their pastor to stay home with his family. After all, a pastor backed up by a healthy family makes for a healthy pastor 🙂 .

Next week, I’ll talk openly about the inside workings of the pastor’s family and how you can pray for your pastor (trust me, they need lots of prayer!).

Profile of a Pastor’s Wife: Married to the Pastor

What’s it like being married to a pastor? Well, it’s all I know since I’ve never been married to an electrician, a veterinarian, or a store clerk (I was married to a bank teller for a couple months until God made it clear to Dan that he was called lol). Being married to a pastor brings a unique aspect to both life and marriage. So to lift the veil, I will be writing candidly about being married to the clergy in hopes that by sharing, I can demystify the life of the pastor and his family.

First, a disclaimer: every marriage and every family is different. So my experience as a pastor’s wife will be different than the next pastor’s wife because A) I’m Morgan and B) I’m married to Dan. ‘Nuff said.

Myth #1: Its great to be married to a pastor because they are amazing spiritual men (aka never sin). Hahahah! Next myth… Actually, I’ve heard this from more than one woman who wished their husband was a pastor so they were a better spiritual leader. Let me debunk that myth. Yes, your pastor sins. Or else they wouldn’t need Jesus. And just because they answered the call doesn’t mean they suddenly stopped sinning. I have been so angry at Dan that I have had to leave the room or else I would say something I would regret.

Being married to Dan from the beginning of his ministry has meant that over the years, I have watched both of us grow spiritually. We have learned to forgive, to bear each other’s burdens, to be truthful with one another. Dan didn’t start out that way (and frankly, neither did I). Just like you, your pastor is growing spiritually and will be until the day he dies.

Myth #2: Everything is spiritual in a pastor’s family. Huh? Trust me, a pastor’s family does not exist on a higher plane of spiritual existence. Both Dan and I have changed diapers, we pay our bills, and enjoy a good game of football. On a more serious note, our children were not born Christians. They are as sinful as the other kids in the nursery and need to hear about God’s grace and make their own choice to follow God.

Our goal in our family is not to be more spiritual but to be real. Real about the hurts and pains in life. Real about saying sorry and asking for forgiveness. Real about loving one another (tickle wrestling is great!). There is no church side and home side to us. We are who we are wherever we are. And by God’s grace, He is shaping us to become more like Him.

That’s all for this week. Next week I’ll talk about the pastor’s wife and polygamy (yep, you read that right but you’ll have to wait until next week to find out what I mean ;)).