Workers’ Comp for Pastors?

The concept behind workers’ compensation (WC) insurance is that employees have coverage for injuries sustained on the job (and secondarily that if they get the compensation that they won’t sue their employer). Nowadays all US states have WC laws.

But, what if churches provided or paid into a fund to provide spiritual workers’ comp? While I suppose pastors could fall out of the pulpit on the job, strain their vocal chords, get a typing injury, most won’t. But, I would contend that most pastors suffer under the weight of the pastoral care needs of their congregation. Being exposed repeatedly to crises, conflict, attack, and other weighty matters, pastors may become broken themselves. Imagine if churches or denominations provided recovery care for these matters. Just as in worker’s comp, there might be requirements that the pastor go to a specific specialist.

Wouldn’t this be novel? Of course WC doesn’t do prevention work–which is what pastors need. But, it might get a congregation to admit that exposing a pastor to endless supplies of brokenness is going to create brokenness in the pastor.


Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership, church and culture, pastoral renewal, pastors and pastoring

5 responses to “Workers’ Comp for Pastors?

  1. While this isn’t exactly what you’re talking about, my church gives the pastor (something in the neighborhood of) 6 consecutive weeks of “sabbatical” every year. It’s usually during the summer, prior to the start of the “ministry year.”

    He uses that time to relax, spend time with his family, travel and generally brush up on various topics / books.

    Not only is it a great blessing for him, but it’s a great thing for our church as well. Because he doesn’t burn out, and we get to hear (and see) the impact of the new skills he’s learned each year.

    I don’t know how anyone can do ministry year-after-year without suffering the side effects you suggest.

    • Wow. I think most pastors get a couple a weeks that they spread over the year. If most pastors got this kind of opportunity I suspect fewer would be burned out.

  2. We also “shut down” the church for the last week of the year and the first week of the new year. Staff and volunteers put in huge numbers of hours leading up to Christmas, so everyone on staff gets two weeks off to rest and recover.

    One of the things we talk about regularly is the idea of “work-life balance”. The church’s position is that you don’t “balance” work and life. You commit 100% to each. So when you’re working, you give all you have. And when you’re resting you also give “all” you have.

    I think it’s a great to see a church take care of it’s employees and volunteers so well.

    • Jess

      Wow… that is fanatastic! I really like the philosophy that it’s not so much “balance” as it is being fully present and alive whether working or “off-duty.”

      Now, please come and have a word with my secular employer about these matters! 😉

  3. Lou Buses

    Who says pastors don’t get injured on the job! Two weeks ago our pastor got so excited during a sermon that he stamped his foot on the stage and broke a bone. (We provide insurance.)

    On the second part of the subject, pastoral care, my pastor and I are going to Paul Tripp’s conferences and monthly meetings at Redeemer’s Seminary in Dallas. Last month, Tripp accepted the position of Director of Pastoral Care.

    My goal is to better learn how to support the pastor and teach it to the body. His job is to learn how to take better care of himself.

    Taking WC from the government would be ecclesiastical suicide. There are always strings attached to Uncle Sam’s money. Often the string looks remarkably like a hangman’s noose.

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