An Open Letter to Exhausted Pastors

Dear pastors,

I’m with you. I see you. I know how hard you’re working. I know how much you care. I know the deep commitment you have to your calling. It’s your calling that sustains you though hard seasons of ministry, times when stones are thrown your way and times when people you care deeply for walk in and out of your life.

I also know that you believe you weren’t called to be a pastor only during the convenient times but also the really difficult times.

I know you’ve read the church history books that talk about the church running toward the pain, the suffering and the sick. I know you were moved and motivated by these stories and you prayed that God would give you the strength and courage to do the same if the opportunity ever came your way.

I know you’ve been called to proclaim the resurrected Christ with every ounce of energy in you. And that you pray that your congregation will experience the new life that is only found in the risen Christ.

I know that you believe it’s times like these that God called you to be a pastor. Not just the easy seasons. Not just the seasons where the fruit is bending the tree limbs, but the times when people are hurting, lonely, sick and full of questions.

I know.

And I know you’re praying and longing and asking God to give you new ideas for how you can lead the church forward during this season of disconnection.

I know. I’m with you. I feel it deeply. I’m working with you. I’m showing up everyday. Giving my very best.

I’m not taking the next 2 months off as an extended vacation. I can’t. Not because of a paycheck. But because my calling will not allow me. I can’t sit by and watch. I’ve been called to be in the middle of it. It’s part of me. I can’t be separated from it in the same way I cannot be separated from the breath in my lungs.

I know my family understands the long hours, the nightly zoom calls, my tired eyes, my exhausted mind because they are called with me. We are a family on mission together. They know I love them. And they love me. And they pray for me. And we pray together at dinner for our healing and the healing of those around us. We pray that God will do a good work in us so that he can do a good work through us.

If you’re like me, you’ve read the posts on social media telling you that you can just stay at home and watch Netflix in your pajamas… and you feel something bubbling within you. It’s an uneasiness. You’re not OK with the prospect of sitting by and watching it happen. You can’t. Because you’ve been called.

I know that tension. And I want you to know that it’s good. It’s a holy tension. It’s a holy unsettling.

I want you to know that we need you. The world needs the church to be Jesus on full display right now.

We need you to pray. We need you to dream. We need you to preach. We need you to make calls. We need you to send text messages full of compassion. We need you to write devotions. We need you to empower the saints to live out the “one another” statements found in the New Testament. We need you to encourage. We need you to proclaim hope. We need you to show us how to lament and be hopeful. We need you to point us back to God’s written word. We need you to remind us that the Lord is our hope and He will not fail us.

So, please don’t stop. I won’t stop. I can’t stop. And when you grow tired remember the words of Jesus:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬

It’s OK to take a break. To breathe. Please keep your sabbath. Turn it off and enjoy your family. You might even need a nap. Go for a walk. Laugh. Process your inner experience.

Just because you can work all the time, and I know there’s always work to be done, does not mean you should work all the time. This will be tough for us. It will take discipline to hit the pause button. But we must because remember these words of Jesus:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John‬ ‭15:5‬

Let’s continue drawing near to Jesus so that the fruit we bear is Jesus fruit. Remain so that you can continue to bear fruit during this unstable season.

Grace and peace to you, my fellow servants!

This work by Gravity Commons is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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  1. Dee Dee Peck on April 9, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Love you guys! We’re with you and appreciate you!

  2. Matt Tebbe on April 20, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Thanks, Dee Dee! 🙂

  3. Matthew Lee Smith on May 5, 2020 at 4:19 am

    Jesus OFTEN withdrew to quiet places of solitude.

    Why do we MISS this?

    “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15–16, NIV)

    There is no honor is failing to imitate our King Jesus. Just a perverted sense of religiosity.

    As a veteran pastor, I’m praying for all pastors – take a break!

    Sleep! Pray! Eat! Relax!

    Love you wife! #RenewTheHoneyMoon! Enjoy your family!

    THEN step back into the fray! Just like Jesus did.


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