Your pastor’s joy is one of the most powerful forces for growth in your church. When a pastor is joyful, the whole church reaps the benefits. Consider what Hebrews 13:17 says:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.– Hebrews 13:17
It is to your advantage to invest in your pastor’s joy. Here are seven reasons why:
1. If your pastor is frustrated, he won’t be able to lead with joy.
Don’t make your pastor groan at the effort he has to expend in convincing you to follow his lead. Don’t frustrate your pastor by resisting his leadership. If your pastor isn’t joyful, it will be hard for him to encourage you.
2. Your pastor is working to care for your soul.
Resisting him could be damaging to you. Obey and submit to your pastor in areas of spiritual care, church leadership, and organizational direction. Following your pastor’s lead does not mean you have to obey everything your pastor says. (Please don’t ever submit to physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual abuse.) It does mean that you shouldn’t have the attitude of one deacon who said, “My job is to oppose the pastor for the good of the church.” This deacon wasn’t reading Hebrews!
3. The church will follow the emotional tone set by the leader.
If your pastor is discouraged by the way people respond, then the emotional tone will likely become bitterness, anger, resentment, or sadness. These are natural human responses and your pastor is just as human as everyone else in the church. Positive encouragement works better than criticism!
4. When you encourage your pastor, you are fighting against Satan.
The devil’s primary weapon against your pastor (and by implication your church) is discouragement. He loves to use the people in the church to discourage the pastor because he knows that when the pastor is hurting the rest of the church is easier to attack.
5. Encouragement offsets the work of the critics.
It’s been said that most pastors leave a church because of just a few critics. The brain prioritizes criticism over encouragement because it is wired to recognize and learn from threats. This is one way that God keeps us safe. However, it also means that for every critic, there needs to be at least four to six people who are encouraging the pastor at the same pace. Some suggest that number should be as high as seven people!
6. Encouragement creates a better work environment, which helps him to serve you better.
If your pastor feels safe, trusted, and joyful he will be able to work at his highest level. If he feels threatened, mistrusted, or discouraged it is impossible for him to do his best work. Many pastors are working at a low level because their work environment is so ugly.
7. When your pastor is joyful, he will naturally be more focused on caring for you (and the rest of the church).
If your pastor feels discouraged or threatened, he will naturally withdraw into self-protection. The longer this state continues the more likely he will suffer long-term effects from the trauma.
One pastor was forced to resign by a very small but powerful group in his church. After his resignation, the vast majority of the congregation expressed their love and gratitude for his ministry. He said, “Why didn’t they speak up before? It might have given me the courage to resist this dysfunctional group.” Instead, it will likely destroy the church.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.
– Hebrews 12:12-15
Take a few minutes and write down what your pastor means to you. How has he helped you grow in Christ? What has he contributed to your faith? What does he mean to you and your family? Fill a whole page and read it over a few times. Now go and say this to your pastor. Then give him a copy for future reference.
What are some other ways you could encourage your pastor?
Pastors, tell your stories. The church needs to hear about the weight you bear and the struggles you face. It will help others to encourage their pastors too. Describe a time that a church member deeply encouraged you. How did it impact your ministry?