How well you care for your pastor will determine how well your pastor can care for you and your church.
How well you care for your pastor will determine how well your pastor can care for you and your church. It doesn’t account for everything, but your pastor cannot minister to his full potential if the church is not investing in his joy.
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 ESV
Notice the last sentence in this verse: “Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” When your pastor is joyful the whole church is blessed. When
Here are five ways you can invest in your pastor’s joy:
Demand that your pastor spend time alone with God to nourish his soul.
Your pastor’s joy in Christ will be the strength of his ministry. If you want to see the power of God at work through your pastor, you must make sure that he is regularly connected to God. Here is what I recommend to make sure it happens.
- Make the first hour of his workday, time in prayer with God. A half hour in the morning and a half hour after lunch would work too. Just be sure that he knows his first job is prayer.
- Guard his day off as a Sabbath rest in God. Don’t disrupt your pastor’s day off unless it is a true life-and-death emergency. Ensure that his day off is spent nourishing his soul.
- Expect him to spend one day a month praying over his
calender. Ask the church to join him in prayer and fasting that day.
- Make him go on a week-long prayer retreat two times each year. Send him to a retreat center or give him a sign to hang on his office door that says “Do not disturb. I’m meeting with the Boss.”
- To ensure that he doesn’t write sermons on his prayer retreats, give him a week of study
leavetwo times each year to plan the next six months of sermons.
- Every fifth year, give him a sabbatical for at least 40 days (90 is better – read more about sabbaticals here). Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness to prepare for a three-year ministry. Your pastor is not more spiritual than Jesus.
These six things will deeply bless your church and help your pastor stay in ministry for a long time.
Make sure your pastor prioritizes his family over the church.
I once heard a prominent Christian leader say, “If I take care of the church, God will take care of my family.” That pastor was forced out of ministry due to infidelity and a national sex scandal. Why? Because he got it backwards. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18), and he requires that a pastor be someone who cares for his family or he is not qualified to lead (1 Timothy 3:4).
When your pastor prioritizes the spiritual, emotional, and physical health of his wife and kids, the church should rise up to praise him. You should say, “Thank you for your godly example of spiritual leadership in your home.” When your pastor cares for his home well, the home will become a source of joy for his ministry. It’s a win for the church!When a pastor cares for his family well, the home will become a source of joy for his ministry.It’s a win for the church! Click To Tweet
Choose spiritual leaders to partner with your pastor.
Pastoral ministry is a very lonely job – especially if your pastor feels like he is working for the elders instead of ministering with the elders. Often churches choose business leaders to be elders in the church without any consideration to their spiritual practices. It is more important that the elders be men of prayer than leaders of business. They need to be men who can discern God’s ways – ways that often seem foolish to those who are not led by the Holy Spirit. Pick men who have deep practices of prayer to be elders in your church (or train them to pray).
Make sure your elders know that their first ministry is to encourage and strengthen the pastor and other elders. They need to be working as a close-knit team, united by love for God and one another. Without this, they will not be able to discern God’s will clearly. They will be divided – or worse, they will be united around something that is not from God. Nothing frustrates a godly pastor more than elders who are not led by the Spirit.
Encourage your pastor far more than you criticize him.
Satan loves to discourage pastors because he knows that a discouraged pastor is likely to harm the whole church. His primary weapon to discourage pastors is the criticism that comes from the members of that pastor’s congregation. Jared Wilson once said that pastors swim in criticism. God has created our brains to prioritize criticism over encouragement; this is one way that we learn to identify threats and stay safe.
In 2013 the Harvard Business Review shared research that shows the top-performing work cultures have a praise to criticism ratio of between 6:1 and 8:1. Does your pastor receive encouragement at a rate that is six to eight times higher than criticism? If not, you are hurting your pastor’s ability to do his best work.
If you offer your pastor true encouragement at least six times before offering any criticism, you will earn his trust and he will listen to what you have to say – especially if your criticism comes with a plan for improvement and growth. If you criticize your pastor without offering encouragement, he will rightly begin to see you as a tool of the devil. Encourage far more than you criticize.
Follow your pastor’s lead.
If you do the first four things on this list, this last one will come easy. When you know that your pastor is seeking God first – that he is spending time in prayer to know and do God’s will, that he is leading his family well, that he is surrounded by godly leaders, that he is acting out of faith and courage rather than doubt and fear – it will be easy to follow his leadership because you will know that he is keeping watch over your soul.
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 13:17How well you care for your pastor will determine how well your pastor can care for you and your church. Click To Tweet
What are some other ways you can invest in your pastor’s joy?
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.