Encouraging Your Pastor
“All praise to the God and Father of our Master Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us." – 2 Cor. 1:3-4 (MSG)
Approximately twenty-five years ago God called my wife and I to a ministry of encouraging God’s ministering servants. After twenty-five years serving in a local church, the Lord set us “on the road” visiting pastors, ministers and church staff. Since that time, we have personally visited with over 1500 pastors in ten states including spending a six-week period in New England calling on pastors, sponsored by the Cecil B. Day Foundation. Presently, we serve as the Mid-South Director of PastorCare, a National Clergy Support Network. The Father told us not to make appointments because He would have those present that we needed to encourage.
During this season we have met every conceivable situation in church offices. What have we learned? We’ve learned that pastors are human beings who have faults and needs like the rest of us. We have also learned that pastors, regardless of the size of their churches, are among the most lonely people in the nation’s work force.
We are not advocating putting pastors on a pedestal or seeing them as the Savior of their churches. First of all, they are servants. (Romans 1:1) Yet, there are things you can do to encourage the man or woman of God who serves the church you attend. Based on our experiences with ministers, here are our suggestions.
1. PRAY for your pastor, church staff and their families. Ask your ministers how you can pray for them, then, do it with consistency and earnestness. (James 5:16).
2. Have an occasional but BRIEF VISIT with your pastor and church staff, without an agenda other than to encourage them. I can remember only once in over twenty years of local church ministry when someone dropped by my office only to encourage me. I’ll never forget that visit.
3. Don’t have UN-REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS of the ministering servants in your church. They can do only so much. They are not Superman or Wonder Woman.
4. Provide a NIGHT OUT for one of your ministers. If needed, you could offer to baby-sit. Even a gift card to a favorite restaurant would be deeply appreciated.
5. Send a HAND-WRITTEN NOTE to your church staff. Greeting cards are fine, but in most cases a hand-written note of sincere appreciation is better.
6. Offer to VOLUNTEER in the church office when special projects need additional workers. Your church can always use reliable and joyful volunteer help.
7. On special occasions or whenever, A SMALL GIFT given in love and appreciation is always appreciated. A good book, a wisely chosen DVD and gift cards are well received.
8. Endeavor to BECOME A FRIEND to your pastor and church staff. Consider inviting them into your home for a meal or for coffee and dessert. If possible. include the minister’s family including the children.
9. REFUSE to participate in GOSSIP regarding the ministerial staff. Those with a problem need to take it to the people involved and not to you. If you’re not a part of the problem or the solution, don’t receive it. Believe the best unless proven otherwise.
10. LISTEN to what your pastor is preaching and teaching. Your taking notes is always a compliment to those who speak publicly. Pay genuine compliments when you have been touched.
In conclusion, please don’t overlook the pastor’s spouse. Many times, spouses are overlooked and over-burdened. Extend a helping hand and an encouraging word. Experts say that most pastors do not have a best friend in the congregation they serve. Why don’t you become a friend to your ministering servants? Be available to listen, comfort, pray and encourage. It will pay rich dividends.
OCTOBER IS PASTOR APPRECIATION MONTH. Do something special for those who serve your church. Year-round, become one who “comes along side” of God’s ministering servants.