Take some time to encourage your pastor this week. He probably needs it.
1. Write him a note of thanks and be specific.
This is an excerpt from a thank-you note I received from a college student: “Over the years, God has often encouraged and challenged me by the truth that you have shared from his word. There is a simple clarity of thought and a depth of study that is evident in your sermons. I feel so blessed to have grown up learning about the Bible and its application from you.” That’s how it’s done! I take this note out whenever I feel discouraged.
2. Take something off his hands.
Ask your pastor, “Is there something I can do to free you up to focus on what’s most important to you?” You may have to ask a few times. Don’t just do this once. Make it a regular request.
3. Lead the church to give him a sabbatical.
Sabbaticals can bring great restoration to your pastor’s soul and spiritual power to his ministry. There are grants available to help pay for the whole thing. There are plenty of online resources to explain what a sabbatical is and to help you structure it well. Your denomination can help too.
4. Give him a gym membership.
Your pastor’s physical health is directly tied to his spiritual stamina. Most pastors will neglect caring for their own bodies so that they have more time to care for others. This is a mistake. Encourage your church to make three hours at the gym each week part of his work hours. The rest of his ministry will benefit. In my church, a gym owner heard how much I struggle to get enough exercise. So, he gave me (and all the other pastors in the area) a free membership to his gym. I felt so honored and loved!
5. Form an encouragement team.
Get two or more people to help you challenge the church to encourage your pastor. Make sure this doesn’t become a pastor accountability group. It’s sole purpose should be to help your pastor serve with joy (Hebrews 13:17).
6. Earn his trust and ask him about his struggles.
This will take time – a long time. Many pastors have been burned by members of their congregation so many times that they have trouble trusting people. You can help them heal by accepting their faults, encouraging their strengths, and loving them as they are. This type of soul-friend is a precious gift.
7. Honor him publicly.
Read biblical texts about honoring your pastor aloud in a worship service (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). Make it a regular practice and give people practical steps to make it happen.
8. Shut down the critics, gossips, grumblers, and complainers.
Have a zero-tolerance policy on these. Stand up to the people who would bully your pastor or talk behind his back. This doesn’t mean that you should silence constructive criticism or people who raise issues of sin or abuse. Those are different categories altogether.
9. Treat his kids like normal human beings.
As a pastor’s kid I got so sick of people telling me how to live and holding me to a higher standard than other kids in the church. Read The Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper. He offers some great wisdom on this issue.
10. Learn his love language and teach the church to speak it well.
Every person has a primary love language – do you know your pastor’s? Learn it and teach it to the church. Or better yet, teach the church all the love languages and use them all to deeply love your pastor and his family.
Pastors, what have people done to encourage you?
Please, leave a comment below. I personally read all the comments and I try to respond within a day. Or we can interact on Twitter (@PastorsSoul) or on our Facebook page.
© Sean Nemecek, 2018. All rights reserved. Request permission.
Sean Nemecek, (M.Div. Grand Rapids Theological Seminary) is the director of The Pastor’s Soul, and pastor at First Baptist Church in Tustin, Michigan since 2001. A third-generation pastor, he grew up listening to pastors and their families talk about the realities of ministry. Now he wants to use this knowledge to bless the church. Sean is married to Amy, a poet and freelance book editor. Together, they have a 17-year-old son.