One of the most significant aspects of our ministry at PastorServe is to encourage congregations to lovingly care for their Pastors. So, here are a few practical ideas:
- Pray regularly for your Pastors
Pray for your pastors personal walk with the Lord and the ability to faithfully preach the Gospel week after week. Pray for wisdom to lead, courage to make difficult decisions and a spirit of humility.
Protect your Pastors
Your Pastors are laboring to protect you and your family from the consequences of sin. Let God use you to protect them from verbal attacks. Squelch gossip. If you hear a negative comment, respond with a positive one. If misinformation is being spread, correct it with the accurate information. Or, if people are gossiping, just walk away. Remember the Bible soundly condemns gossip and careless speech. Psalm 34:13 reads, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.”
Express appreciation to your Pastors in writing
A spoken compliment is always welcome, but a written one can be read over and over again for years. So, when you hear or see something you like from your Pastor, write an appreciative note. If you appreciate your Pastor, tell them! The only feedback they often receive are absurd remarks about the sermon via anonymous e-mails. By the way, never raise a critical (or trivial) issue before – or immediately after – worship and preaching: leave it till later.
Acknowledge that all of life is ministry – and the Pastor’s family is his primary ministry
Some Pastors feel guilty taking time off. Jesus sometimes left needy crowds to retreat to the desert. Few Pastors are lazy: more are workaholics. So encourage your Pastors to have fun!
Encourage your Pastor to take risks in ministry
Outstanding Pastors tend not to be conformists. They feel safe taking risks – and occasionally failing – because they are surrounded by mature people who don’t have a phobia about always ‘playing it safe’. Give your Pastor the freedom to launch a new program or suggest something which may seem to be outside the box.
Be available to be a friend to Your Pastor but don’t push yourself on your Pastor
Pastors – and their spouses – are the loneliest people in our community, but many want to be their ‘special friend’. Friendship is something offered, invited and reciprocated. If the Pastor doesn’t respond to your overtures, that’s not a rebuff, but maybe a survival-tactic. He or she may need close friends outside the church.
Cut the criticism of your Pastor
Unlike most workers who are evaluated once or twice a year, Pastors are often critiqued weekly. It’s not unusual to hear people say “the music was poor,” “the song selection was awful,” or “the sermon was boring.” We would do well to remember that spiritual leaders work hard to make worship a unique celebration each week.
Throw away the measuring stick
Don’t expect that your Pastors will do things the same way their predecessors did. Not everyone is a Tim Keller. Lay aside personal agendas and preferences. Instead, focus on how your leader is being used by God to do effective ministry now. By serving your shepherds, you will ensure that they will not only be encouraged but will feel appreciated and continue to minister with enthusiasm and energy.
Allow your Pastor to be real!
It is exhausting to go through life pretending you are better than you really are. Be patient and understanding with your Pastor. Do not expect your Pastor or their family to be perfect, they are human. John 1:5, and James 5:17 teach that a man of God has the same human weaknesses and temptations that we all face.
- Allow the Pastor to have a life outside of church.
I have known Pastors who are the job. They are the reverend or the Pastor 24/7/365. Pastoring is a role we need to disconnect from at times in order to maintain our sanity and in order to maintain freshness in ministry.
Respect your Pastor’s day off.
Keep social situations social.
When away from the church, introduce the Pastor as your friend.
Encourage your Pastor to take all of their vacation.
Give a special gift to the Pastor to express appreciation.
Paul wanted to give a spiritual gift to his Roman friends, to make them strong (Romans 1:11). He also needed their gift of ‘rest’ for himself (15:32). The gift of encouragement helps others show love and do good (Hebrews 10:24-5). The church supports the Pastor materially, but sometimes a special gift (like tickets to a sporting event or theater) can be a blessing. And – do not give a pastor two tickets to the theater and then announce – “actually I bought four tickets. My wife and I will be sitting next to you. Let’s meet for diner before the show. Our treat!” You have just turned a potential restful evening for a pastoral couple into a night of work.
Take good care of your Pastor’s spouse and children.
Most Pastors understand that criticism comes with the territory. That’s a part of the cost of doing the business of ministry. Pastors also understand and welcome the demands of ministry. But it’s harder to take criticism and overbearing demands on spouses and kids. Pastor’s spouses and kids have enough problems being married to a pastor and being raised by a pastor! Sometimes people will take out their frustrations on Pastors through criticism of their spouse in particular.
Understand – the amount of money I give does not buy me the right to be an antagonist in the Church.
No one has the right to be an antagonist in the church. While your motives my be good, do not presume that your faithful giving has purchased the Pastor’s ear.
Be vocal in recognizing your Pastor’s assets to the congregation. Do something creative to show your support. Write a letter to the elder board stating your appreciation of the Pastors.
This doesn’t mean lip service either. Sincere respect is demonstrated by action. Honor your Pastor’s day off. Understand their need for continuing education, solitude, and privacy. Encourage your Pastors to set boundaries to protect themselves, and then encourage others to honor those boundaries. Respect means we don’t violate someone’s personhood. Your Pastors aren’t just Pastors. They have other obligations such as parent, spouse, and friend. They have parents to care for and individual dreams and goals of their own.
Provide time and expenses to enable your Pastor and staff to get additional knowledge, practice, and nurture through continuing education events, workshops, and renewal. Give thoughtful feedback and encourage good coaching. Help keep things going when they need to be away for updating skills and learning new ministries. (Rom. 7:1-25)
Pay your Pastor a fair salary.
Support them financially so they can keep their mind on the work of the ministry (see I Tim. 5:17, 18 and Phil. 4:10-19). If a pastor cannot properly care for their family, they will be distracted from the ministry. It costs your Pastor just as much to live as it does you. Pastoring a church is comparable to running a business. The Stanford MBA is a two year program requiring 100 quarter hours for graduation. The standard degree for a Pastor is a Masters of Divinity which is a three year program requiring over 100 semester hours. Yes, your Pastor has a better education in his own field than the Stanford MBA has in theirs. Go the extra mile.